Working Waterfront: Peter Dailey, Port of San Francisco
I Lunch for a Living
Bay Crossings Journal
Bay Crossings Poetry
Springtime in Paris Sweepstakes
Ferry News
The Steam Will Rise Again
Bay Area Libations
Working Waterfront: Laurie Miskuski
Boating Calendar
Taste on the Bay on its Way
Bay Area Sailors Win National Acclaim
Cover Story: Waterfront Living
Bay Crossings Cuisine:
Port of Call: Riga, Latvia
City Welcomes New Sculpture "Cupid’s Span"
New Hookup Links 511 Service With Hearing-, Speech-Impaired Travelers
WTA Pages: All Aboard for Martinez
MTC Updates Master Plan for Bay Area’s Network of Carpool Lanes
Tables by the Bay
Flight of Fantasy

Bay CrossingsWaterfront Living

By Mary Swift-Swan

Waterfront urban renovations and new construction projects are rapidly transforming Oakland’s Jack London District. The renaissance of the area recently attracted the well-respected builder Crescent Heights, one of America’s most active condominium companies. Crescent Heights is best known for its visionary loft living renovation projects in New York City, successfully converting historic industrial spaces into high-end, sought-after condos. Their new full-amenity, resort-like waterfront living complex recently opened its sales office for the Sierra condominium project. They are already ahead of schedule selling units, with initial occupancy predicted to begin as early as April 2003. The complex has three levels of underground parking, two-story ground level retail and live/work spaces with modern lofts and flats in six levels of residence capping the 12-story structure with a sundeck.

Oakland’s Mayor Jerry Brown was a pioneer participant in Jack London District’s transformation from dormant and underutilized commercial and industrial properties to emerging hipster hangout. After moving to Oakland in 1992, Brown worked with his neighbors to transform his properties into trendy luxury live/work and loft living spaces. When he was elected Mayor in 1998, Brown outlined campaign goals for the revitalization of urban Oakland: bring10,000 new residents to downtown Oakland. His ambitious goals are being most notably met in the Jack London Square area and the biggest of the new developments is the Sierra.

The exterior of the Sierra, in keeping with the colors of the California mountain range for which it was named, was designed by the award-winning Bay Area architect Kava Massih. The rustic interior was designed by the Rockwell Group, whose principal David Rockwell has worked for W Hotels in Manhattan and the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, home of the Academy Awards. The Sierra boasts a two-story lobby, an outdoor lap pool, a sauna, and a sundeck. There is a state-of-the-art fitness center, a business center, conference rooms, a library, and a media room. Those who visit the six stories of characteristically simple yet elegant lofts and flats in this new complex will notice how they differ from standard apartments. The thick walls provide excellent soundproofing to keep out the noise of cars, highways, and neighbors. The 16- to 18-foot ceilings allow for more light and a wonderland of new interior design options.

Commuter routes are close and convenient to this Jack London location. Residents are minutes from onramps to the freeway, a ten-minute drive to the airport, just blocks from ferries, BART, bus, and trains. Mayor Brown and his neighbors were the pebble that started the ripple in a pond that has become a wave of change to Oakland’s Estuary waterfront. What was once a nearly dormant industrial area is now a growing, thriving residential and mixed-use zone spurring on the renaissance of the Jack London District.


The penthouse flat signature interior décor is the creation of Mitchell Freedland Design, 1760 West 3rd Ave, Suite 200, Vancouver, BC, Canada (604) 733-3600, One of three top designers chosen to create a harmonious and stylish interiors at the Sierra. Mitchell Freedland has been working with Crescent Heights for several years. In that time, they have crafted unique and lovely interiors for models and for new complex residents with grace and style. Mitchell Freedland has tailored their models to reflect each complex theme, lifestyle, and taste of the region. They have worked with Crescent Heights on complexes in Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tampa, Honolulu, San Francisco and now Oakland.

Port of Oakland Estuary Plan

The Neighborhood. The wholesale produce industry in Oakland is centered at the Oakland Produce Market in the Jack London District. However, market operations are not expected to remain there over the long term. A recent City study identified that physical conditions of the existing facilities are inadequate for modern, efficient operations, and that the type of modern distribution facility needed cannot be provided at the current location. Eventual relocation of the wholesale produce market will offer opportunities for reuse of the area adjacent to the new residential boom.

Office. Office uses have been growing within the planning area. The mix of uses and historical quality of the Jack London District support a less-traditional office niche. The area’s convenient location and its opportunities for new space, for interesting space in older industrial buildings, and for owner-occupied office space have attracted a wide variety of office tenants, including architects, consultants, media-related firms, insurance, law, and other professional service firms. The demand for office space is expected to continue to grow.

Commercial/Entertainment. As a destination for dining, entertainment and retail uses, Jack London Square’s performance has improved significantly since the early 1990s. Major new attractions (Jack London Cinema, Barnes and Noble, Yoshi’s), established restaurants, and numerous special events now bring thousands of people to the area. There is momentum to build on and great potential to strengthen and expand the area as a stronger and desirable destination for retail, dining, and entertainment activities.

Housing. Work/live and loft housing in the more central portions of the Jack London District is attractive to East Bay artisans and entrepreneurial professionals commanding higher prices and rents than other nearby options. Throughout the Jack London area, work/live and loft housing has been developed through the conversion and rehabilitation of older warehouse and industrial buildings.

There is potential for additional work/live and loft housing in the Jack London District in the future. There are opportunities for additional conversions of warehouse buildings to work/live lofts and opportunities for new construction sites due to attractive raw property prices. Increasing developed property values and rents in the area are expected to reach levels that will make development ventures attractive for a growth in new construction of loft housing and work/live space conversions. The district’s industrial/artistic feel, its mix of uses, and its urban development pattern are important aspects of the area’s desirability for urban, nontraditional types of housing.

The paint on the wall is called Old Mill Stream, #1301, manufactured by ICI. They achieved special effects by using both flat and eggshell paint. The streams of the Sierra’s are places where cares can drift away like a leaf in the current. The art and framing are a custom design by Mitchell Freedland Design, supplied by Hambleton Fine Art of Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Laurie Miskuski, Marketing Director for the Sierra and her daughter gently play in the morning light on a sectional sofa with custom pillows that are custom designs by Mitchell Freedland Design. Those shown are manufactured by Bari Designs Ltd. of Richmond, BC, Canada. The Robert Allen fabrics maintain the Sierra’s theme of colors and textures, using dusty rose velvety fabric for the sofa. A combination of print tube and rectangular pillows in soft textures and colors of rocks in a stream provide islands of comfort for reading and relaxing. A warm graphite-colored cashmere soft throw by Caban of Vancouver, Canada is just the thing to ward off the morning and evening chill, or to snuggle under for a nap.

Like the Sierras, a thick layer of snowy white covers the ground, but it is warm woolly carpet instead of cold wet snow. Flokati carpet is available through better retailers in both the U.S. and Canada.

Design Within Reach of San Francisco provided the glass and polished chrome coffee table and the side and lamp tables, which are as clean and clear as water bright with sunny reflection.

The table lamp is a "Beamy Light," designed is by Kishima, a 100-year-old Japanese company whose success is a direct reflection of their insistence on quality. The table lamp gives light with the warm glow of a fire. Kishima opened their first American store in San Francisco at 900 North Point St, Suite B105, Ghirardelli Square,, in December 2002, providing a new option for interior designers.

The candleholders are available from Torres & Tagus or select retailers in the U.S. and Canada. The candles were supplied by Chandelier, of San Francisco.

The unique dining room set is a custom design by Mitchell Freedland Design Canada, and manufactured by Bari Designs

The stunning chair supplied by Plexicraft of New York, NY is very heavy with padded feet to keep it in place on the hardwood floors. The material gives it a shimmering quality which makes it look like reflected light on water . Sitting in one is like slipping into a swimming hole along a mountain stream. It is not only surprisingly comfortable it springs, but its slight springing action gives it a floating sensation.

Most of the kitchen accessories are available at Crate and Barrel.

The Sierra offers two options. Flats or lofts with light oak hardwood floors have dark counter cabinets. Those with walnut tone floors have contrasting maple veneer cabinetst. It is possible to have all dark or all light if requested before completion. The counterstops are "Absolute Black Granite" honed. All kitchen appliances are by GE. Stainless steel, finish top ranges areavailable with either back set or front controls, for different retail prices.

Standard vanity cabinets are dark with sand floor tiles and "Crema Bello" limestone honed counters.

Loft half walls were seen in two forms. In a one-bedroom loft, the solid half wall provided privacy allowing light to brighten the room like predawn light on the horizon.

In the configuration with an upstairs separate bedroom, the loft office half wall was inset with glass panels allowing more light from the towering windows and a view of the living room area.

The Sierra is the newest complex in the Jack London District. Recently completed award-winning projects like the Legacy and Allegro offer apartments for rent and lease. The Sierra offers lofts and flats for homeowners and adds a welcome non-transient fuel to the fire of the building waterfront renaissance with over 200 residential units ranging from $350,000 to $790,000, plus live/work and retail sites surrounding the complex on the ground level. The Jack London District has advanced is city-wide goal of attracting 10,000 new residents to the urban area. This new project will help make a difference as Oakland marches ahead to revitalize the quality of urban life. To this northern California native, the Sierra was like unexpectedly entering a grove of redwoods, with its spacious, airy, shafts of sunlight, temperate and peaceful with a sense of vibrance.

Contact the Crescent Heights office for sales and information at: Sierra Sales office located at 311 Oak St. (510) 285-3500.