OAKLAND (CBS SF) — One of the biggest real estate developments ever seen in Oakland, with more square footage than the new San Francisco Salesforce Tower, may soon be taking shape near the 19th St. BART Station.

The Eastline Project planned for the 2100 block of Telegraph Ave. would address Oakland dearth of office space. The city has the tightest commercial real estate market in the country. A recent ranking of all the commercial real estate available in the country listed Oakland as number one for the least about of vacant office space, ahead of both San Francisco and midtown Manhattan.

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The plans for the 1.57 million square foot Eastside development is a sign of a building boom in Oakland. “I would argue that Oakland is ripe for this type of development,” said urban planning expert Malo Hutson. “The question is, if you build it will they come? And I think given the growth in the Bay Area of jobs I think that Oakland is investing wisely to think that, hey, we should build some commercial space.”

The Eastside project would take up the entire block bordered by Telegraph, Broadway, 21st and 22nd Streets, nearly 1.6 million square feet of office space.

“You see a lot of parking spaces around Oakland that are being developed for housing and other things. I think people are looking at it and saying, ‘We’re this close to transit.’ Transit is an issue. We think about environmental issues. It’s an ideal place to build and could be a catalyst for Oakland in terms of bringing good quality jobs.”

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Hutson notes Oakland has gone on a housing building spree, with 4,000 units under construction right now and says the ripple effect is two-fold. People can live in Oakland and stay in the city to work, avoiding the arduous commute to Silicon Valley; or they could continue to live near BART stops across the East Bay and shorten their public transit commute by getting off in downtown Oakland.

“Given the fact that there’s so little commercial space in the Bay Area, certainly in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and certainly looking at Oakland, I think it’s a logical gamble,” said Hutson.

Oakland’s Planning Commission has scheduled a vote on the Eastside project on July 18. If it passes, it could be approved later this year by the city council, with construction to begin possibly in 2019.

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