OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The COVID-19 pandemic has turned Oakland’s once bustling Jack London Square into a ghost town, but Port of Oakland officials say the area will make a comeback.

Jack London Square has long been known as a popular business and entertainment district on the Oakland waterfront. COVID-19 has put a damper on business at the once vibrant center.

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“Nothing is open. Seems kind of dead,” said Bob Harris, a tourist who was visiting from San Diego.

The tourist and visitor center at Jack London Square is currently locked up with a posted sign that reads “Temporary Closed.”

“Normally you see people getting drinks by the waterfront and eating and walking their dogs,” said Oakland resident Michael Abbate.

“In the past, you could expect 3.5 million visitors a year to Jack London Square,” said Mike Zampa, Communications Director with the Port of Oakland.

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He said restaurants are doing what they can to attract waterfront patrons for outdoor dining, but foot traffic has definitely slowed down.

Zampa says businesses are hoping the promise of good times to come pays off thanks to new housing in the area.

“There are hundreds of new apartment units that will open on the eastern edge of the Port’s waterfront this year. Hundreds more are already being leased in surrounding neighborhoods,” said Zampa.

Another attraction that will bring crowds to the area: a new baseball stadium for the Oakland A’s at the western edge of the Waterfront.

“People are fighting the good fight. They want to hang in,” said Zampa.

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If there is one thing that remains constant in the neighborhood, it’s the Amtrak and trains rolling through. Officials said weekends, which feature a popular farmers’ market on Sunday, have been seeing more foot traffic in the area.

Juliette Goodrich