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Uptown Oakland Loses Major Food Hall Project as Uber Stalls on Headquarters

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Newberry Market was the first to sign on to the project

A rendering of the Uptown Station building at 1954 Telegraph Avenue

With Uber’s plan to move its headquarters to Oakland’s former Sears building put on hold, the anchor retail tenant for the space, Newberry Market, has withdrawn from the project. The foreseen market would have occupied two-thirds of the 30,000-square-foot retail space with produce, prepared foods, and a full-service butcher shop. In 2015, Newberry Market’s Loren Goodwin explained to Eater that “Our goal is to be the most viable option for people who live and work in the East Bay.” But after constant delays and uncertainty, that’s not to be.

In 2015, Uber bought the former Sears Building, known as Uptown Station, for $123.5 million from developer Lane Partners. The SF Business Times called the deal “market-shaking.” Lane Partners had purchased the building for $25 million the year prior, investing about $40 million in renovations with the goal of luring a tech company to the property.

Newberry Market rendering
Steel Blue

As Uber became embroiled in scandals over its work environment and technology, the company slowed its approach to the Oakland building. In March, Uber representatives said the company would send just hundreds, rather than thousands, of workers to the offices and lease the rest of the space. Now, after investors ousted its CEO, Uber is reportedly considering selling the former Sears building entirely.

“Uber's lack of follow through in order to get the retail space available was only a small piece of the puzzle,” says Goodwin of the would-be Newberry Market. He and partner Anna Thai have moved on to other projects, including the Gastropig, a nearby Uptown Oakland restaurant selling breakfast sandwiches.

“We were willing to work with the building owners, whoever that was going to be... Lane [Partners] at first, then Uber,” Goodwin explains.“[But] we were told by the design team that Uber hired that ‘it wasn't clear what Oakland wanted.’”

That didn’t sit well with Goodwin. “We thought the outpouring of interest in Newberry Market was a pretty good indication of what Oakland wanted.” According to Newberry Market’s website, the project was to provide a “full service specialty market that empowers the community by providing access to delicious, healthy, and local foods in a convenient setting,” also creating 150 to 200 new jobs.

But tired of “arguing with the designer and her team from New York about what Oakland needed ”— after Uber’s purchase of the space, New York’s SHoP Architects took over from Gensler — Thai and Goodwin pulled out.

Meanwhile, “running the Gastropig has been a relentless and rewarding project,” Goodwin says. “Of course,” he adds, “we would love to see more people in the area,” including more residents and businesspeople. But until Uber takes a clear direction on its property, those customers won’t be coming from Uptown Station.