East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) on Thursday celebrated the grand opening of the historic California Hotel.
“I’m so pleased to celebrate this grand opening – actually re-opening – of the California Hotel, a treasured part of Oakland’s history,” said Assemblymember Skinner. “We need more safe and affordable housing that helps people stay in the neighborhoods they love, as well as space for small business”
Located at 3501 San Pablo Ave., the hotel provides 137 newly renovate and affordable homes. On-site health care and supportive services for residents are provided by LifeLong Medical Care.
Ground-floor commercial spaces create opportunities for local businesses. In the back of the hotel is a 9,000-square-foot organic garden operated by People’s Grocery, where residents help grow vegetables and raise chickens.
“The California Hotel is a prime example of EBALDC’s work to create healthy neighborhoods where residents have access to stable housing, healthy food, and educational and employment opportunities,” said EBALDC Executive Director Joshua Simon.
Built in 1929 in the Mission-Spanish Colonial Revival style, the California Hotel grew to become a cultural and musical hub, as jazz greats like James Brown, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Sly Stone, Mahalia Jackson and Big Mama Thornton performed at the club.
The hotel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 1960s, the I-580 freeway was built adjacent to the California Hotel; the resulting division of the neighborhood, amidst other social and economic factors, caused financial troubles for the hotel. It was shut down in 1971.
The hotel was converted to affordable housing in the 1980s, but abandoned in 2007 and later foreclosed. However, residents fought to remain in the building and were eventually successful, with the assistance of trustee Anne Omura of the Eviction Defense Center.
EBALDC acquired the California Hotel in 2011 and began rehabilitation.
“The California Hotel has seen Oakland at its worst and its best,” said Simon. “Now, as Oakland experiences a new wave of development and as housing prices rise, we are committed to maintaining this important part of West Oakland as affordable, safe and healthy housing.”
Major partners in the California Hotel rehabilitation are Gelfand Partner Architects, Cahill Contractors, Inc. and Bonnewit Development Services. Funders and investors include Enterprise Community Partners, U.S. Bank, California Housing Finance Agency, California State Department of Housing and Community Development, Alameda County Behavioral Health Services, Alameda County Department of Housing and Community Development, Oakland Housing Authority and the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
For more information, visit www.ebaldc.org.