Ensure a range of low-cost spaces are available in Oakland to support capital constrained innovation businesses.

  • Not every business that is launched from Oakland’s research and development sector will be able to afford leasing new construction which tends to be more expensive.
  • Digital tech and software-based companies do not require elaborate build outs or expensive lab space.
  • With the uncertainty around the future of retail there will likely be underutilized spaces.
  • Additionally, there are areas of Oakland such as Melwood which are traditional employment nodes and have building typologies that may appeal to a range of early stage companies looking for lower rents to have manage the burn rate of their capital.
  • Work directly with property owners to encourage the use of empty first floors as potential start-up / scale-up workspace particularly for digital based companies that do not require extensive build out / tenant improvements by working with landlords and the institutions to identify companies.
  • Consider targeted acquisition and preservation of smaller buildings that could serve as hosts for these types of businesses and other local small businesses.
  • This is part of a cohesive program that seeks to create a pipeline, support fit out, and subsidize space. The set aside portion could be identified and agreed to as part of a discussions and partnership with the community outside of Zoning Code approvals.
  • Zoning Code amendments that create and incentive for workforce development could provide a height bonus for this kind of ground floor use and could alternatively generate funding to support fit out where the developer cannot commit to on-site programming at the time of approvals/construction.

When to start: 3-5 years

Duration: Ongoing

Estimated costs: $$ (out of $$$$)

Project lead(s): OBID, URA

Project partner(s): Building and property owners, institutions, foundations

Potential funding source(s): Building owners, Community Reinvestment Fund