OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — People in Oakland got their first look at a transformed neighborhood centerpiece Thursday as officials unveiled the new and improved Latham square in the city’s uptown district.
After three years of construction, the project is finally done, and water will flow in the fountain for the first time in 75 years.
“Downtown Oakland has seem dramatic revitalization. As a life-long Oaklander, that’s exciting to me. But i recognize at the same time, it does create a threat, a threat of displacement,” Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf said.
But, many say displacement is already happening throughout Oakland, especially in the desirable uptown area.
High rents not only forced out families, but mom and pop shops.
“Those mom and pop shops are the reason why this neighborhood is here because they were here when no one wanted to be here,” business attorney ray Stanley said.
Stanley owns a law office next to Latham square.
He’s seen a lot of small businesses close down.
“Take affirmative steps to protect the culture, the people that make Oakland what it is,” Stanley said.
With Uber soon expanding and moving into the old sears building, some believe rents in uptown will rise even more.
But, city leaders say they’re working to protect existing affordable housing and build new low income units.
“I mean everybody loves progress, but you don’t want to leave people behind,” Stanley said.