OAKLAND (KCBS)— Change is coming to a long-vacant lot in Oakland’s re-surging Uptown neighborhood as ground has been broken on a new housing development that will cater to working class families.

Nestled at the corner of San Pablo Avenue and 21st Street, this plot of land used to support the St. Francis De Sales Cathedral and adjoining rectory.

The cathedral suffered damage in the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake and had to be torn down. The lot has been barren ever since, but not for long.

City leaders and developers took part in a ceremonial shovel dig at the site soon to be called Cathedral Gardens. It will include three buildings and 100 apartments in total.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Eric Johnson, executive director of the Oakland Housing Authority explained construction plans.

“We’re going to preserve the historical building behind me which is the old rectory. Then we’re going to build housing on either side and fill out the neighborhood,” Johnson said.

Mayor Quan was excited to say that most of the housing will be set aside for low and middle income earners adding that it’s important not to gentrify an area to a point where “regular people can’t live”.

Mary Murtagh, president and CEO of Excellence to Affordable Housing (EAH), a non-profit group that will develop the property, said she envisions Cathedral Gardens attracting a lot of young people.

“A lot of parts of our population are really looking to get rid of their cars, not drive long distances and they want to be close to work,” Murtagh said adding that the project should take about 15 months to complete.

If all goes according to plan, they’ll celebrate a grand opening around Labor Day 2013.

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