Lakeside Apartment Neighborhood Association

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This is a view of Schilling gardens as it looked in July of 2008.
This is a view looking through the fence into Schilling Gardens from Snow Park.
Photo was taken on July 12, 2008 by Anne Wellington.

Visit the Schilling Family Estate Web Site

August Schilling gave Oakland a valuable landmark.

Schilling Gardens has a historical rating of A1+, yet it is on the precipace of destruction.

 

The failure of the City to accept the donation of Schilling Gardens in 2005 and the opportunistic purchase of the property by an unscrupulous speculator / developer put this landmark in peril. If successful in replacing these historic gardens with a 42-story luxury high-rise completely out-of-scale and out-of-character with its surrounding neighborhood, the developer will set a precedent that will put all of Oakland's historic landmarks at risk of destruction.

The fate of not only Schilling Gardens, but that of the adjacent historic properties, The Regillus and the Bechtel Building, are also in question.

The southern side of the Becthel and the western side of the Regillus have regal units facing the garden. Currently, part of the value of these occupied, tax generating units, lies in their unobstructed views of the garden, and much of the city to the south and the west.

There is also the built-in "green" advantage of solar heat and sunlight that enters these buildings during the day. The construction of a 42-story buiiding adjacent to these architectural treasures will devalue facing units'; desirability by destroying the view and the solar advantages. The contemplation of new "green" buildings should be balanced against the loss of existing "green" technologies in older buildings. Tenants at the Regillus and the Bechtel will be forced to use more electricity for lighting and more artificial heat, in turn contributing to the generation of greenhouse gases, if this proposed 42-story high–rise is constructed.

Another consideration is that the tax revenue actually coming into the City coffers from the Regillus likely will be lost once construction begins; a permanent loss for reasons already stated. Underscoring this point is the fact that the Regillus already has one owner looking to sell. Is this merely coincidence or is it prescient timing?

If the city is really concerned about the tax revenue potential of 375 new luxury condominiums, it should also evaluate the loss of tax revenues from the adjacent existing condominiums. What sort of guarantee is the developer providing that these new luxury condos will sell in the questionable real estate market we currently have? The last "luxury" condominium project forced on this neighborhood was the one at 14th and Jackson. The same gentrification, "eyes on the street", and tax revenue arguments were used to sway the Planning Commission to give the green light to this project. We now have a plastic wrapped eyesore reaching 8-stories into the Oakland skyline, absolutely no tax revenue, and a bank left holding the bag on the defaulted loan.

 

Gerald Green, the San Francisco City Director of Planning forced out of his job for taking bribes, purchased this foreclosed property in 2008. Gerald Green is also the individual who filed the application for the 42-story condo development at Schilling Gardens. The cast of shady characters associated with the 42-story Emerald Views hardly stops with Green.

Shroud of Shame
This photo of the Shroud of Shame was taken in September of 2007. The plastic had been on this building so long that it began to deteriorate. It was replaced with a new shroud. Photo by Anne Wellington

The reputations of the developers for Emerald Views - David O'Keefe and Roy Guinnane, the involved real estate company and lobbyist - Carlos Plazola, former head of the powerful Residential Builders Association (RBA) in San Francisco and lobbyist - Joe O'Donnaghue, are all questionable. South of Market in San Francisco was ravaged by the same, with the exception the East Bay players. As a former aide to Ignacio De La Fuente, Plazola learned how to wheel and deal with the notorious Oak to 9th project. Laura Blair, a former Deputy City Attorney and Carlos Plazola have joined forces in Terra Linda Devlopment Services. These speculators are pushing this 42-story condominium down the throat of an unwilling community that deserves much better.

The prospect of another 14th and Jackson type building, plastic covered and jutting 42-stories into the sky, as a replacement for the historic Schilling Gardens, is hardly my idea of either gentrification or of neighborhood improvement. The gamble of losing existing tax revenue for the speculation that people will eventually occupy this 42-story building is also risky. We can correct this folly now, but it will be nearly impossible once the approval goes through and the developer breaks ground.