San Francisco Chronicle
By Bill Hutchison
Uber is planning to sell the former Sears building in downtown Oakland, which it bought two years ago for $123.5 million and where it once intended to place 3,000 employees, according to a report.
The ride-hailing giant is expected to offer the building at 1955 Broadway for roughly what it paid for it and abandon plans to put workers there, the San Francisco Business Times reported.
“As we look to strengthen our financial position so we can better serve riders and drivers for the long term, we’re exploring several options for Uptown Station, including a sale,” an Uber spokeswoman wrote in a statement sent to reporters, referring to the building by the name the company had given it. “We remain committed to serving Oakland and our broader hometown Bay Area community.”
Uber had already drastically curtailed its plans for the 380,000-square-foot building near the 19th Street BART station, saying in March that it would move only a few hundred employees there. Uber plans to consolidate many of its local employees in a new headquarters building in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood.
Uber bought 1955 Broadway in 2015 from developer Lane Partners, which purchased the seven-story property the year before from Sears for $24.25 million. The developer and an architecture firm undertook what was to be a $40 million overhaul of the former department store.
The Greenlining Institute, an Oakland nonprofit, had initially pushed for Uber to provide community benefits when the firm moved workers to Oakland, such as hiring locally and guaranteeing employees a living wage. But the group later launched a “No to Uber in Oakland” campaign, fearing the project would cause displacement of residents and lead to gentrification.
“We started No Uber Oakland because we worried Uber could have negative effects on a city already struggling with gentrification, and because we never saw evidence that Uber had any real commitment to Oakland, despite occasional pleasant rhetoric. Clearly, that second part at least was right,” Orson Aguilar, president of Greenlining, said in a statement Thursday night.
“Still, we never gave up hope that Uber would sit down and work with the Oakland community to create something that would be good both for the company and for Oaklanders,” Aguilar said. “Uber, sadly, never had any interest in a real partnership with Oakland.”