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Bay Area Research Rant: IS Oakland the New Brooklyn?

By Robert Sammons, Regional Director – Northwest U.S. Research

IS Oakland the new Brooklyn? We attempt to answer that question in the informative and (we think, clever) infographic. So why THIS topic some (or most) of you will ask? It’s simply because the subject has popped up in the press and in meetings with clients more than a few times. Thus our crack team of researchers here in the Bay Area and in New York City set out to compare – with all sorts of facts and figures – these very dynamic markets.

Brooklyn got quite the head start between these two markets. New York City, in general, was on a roll in the 1990s – it was cleaner, safer and business was booming. But Manhattan was becoming ultra-expensive thus the younger generation attracted to the bright lights “discovered” Brooklyn (already the largest borough by population) with its enormous and less pricey housing stock. Convenience was also a huge plus – it being very easy to pop back and forth under or across the East River. Some neighborhoods took a lot longer to gentrify than others (that word today admittedly having somewhat of a negative connotation). Meanwhile, the commercial market had ebbed and flowed since the 1980s with various incentives in place to attract tenants from Manhattan and beyond. Fast forward to today, though, and millennials who desire to live, work and play within or near the same neighborhoods have pulled businesses closer to them – particularly those within the TAMI sector (technology, advertising, media and information). Beyond residential and office, there has come the inevitable expansion of restaurants, theater, shopping and galleries (after all this is New York City!). Thus from DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to Downtown and numerous neighborhoods beyond, Brooklyn’s renaissance continues albeit at a steeper price as in some cases it’s more expensive to live there than in areas of Manhattan.

Oakland_SkylineAnd then there’s Oakland sitting proudly just across the Bay from San Francisco. Its resurgence began a good ten years later than Brooklyn’s, during this most recent economic boom. Much like its sister market on the East Coast, it was the recipient of numerous millennials (as well as other generations) that were being priced out of the primary urban center. Convenience again was key – being two to three BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train stops away from the commercial heart of San Francisco. Oakland was less expensive, had the necessary mass transit and relatively healthy housing stock plus it was walkable and bikeable (something that has become ever more important across generations). Numerous companies also began to discover Oakland with its less expensive office space. First came the non-profits along with smaller businesses. More recently, larger established companies have begun opening offices in Oakland. With gentrification (even more of a dangerous word here in the Bay Area) well underway, the housing stock is going up (literally) and also becoming more expensive. The population continues to grow as have the restaurants and bars and galleries. And we certainly see this trend continuing for the foreseeable future.

To view our infographic, CLICK HERE.

(By the way, we’ll soon tackle other transit-oriented suburban markets that might be future recipients of success similar to what both Brooklyn and Oakland have managed).

This post is guest commentary from the latest weekly edition of our Bay Area Research Rant, which you can subscribe to for free by e-mailing robert.sammons@cushwake.com.

Robert_SammonsRobert Sammons is a Research Director for Cushman & Wakefield. Based in San Francisco, Robert’s principal roles include working closely with the C&W research teams across the Northwest – including Northern California, Portland and Denver. Robert is author of numerous documents that delve into a wide variety of real estate and economic trends. He has been a quoted source for all manner of real estate and related economic information in many widely known media outlets across the country. Robert has 29 years of real estate experience as both an appraiser and researcher. He earned a BBA in Real Estate from The University of Georgia and an MS in Real Estate from Georgia State University. Robert is a member of the Urban Land Institute.

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