An ambitious new specialty market is coming to the ground floor of the former Sears building in Uptown Oakland.
Newberry Market & Deli is being billed as the anchor tenant for the ground floor of the Uptown Station project at 20th Street and Broadway. The 400,000 square foot mixed retail and office building is being redeveloped by Lane Partners, along with architecture firm Gensler, in the hopes of luring San Francisco and Silicon Valley-style tech companies andbecoming an economic base for the area.
Named after the old Newberry’s department store that operated next door decades ago, the market is the brainchild of Oakland residents Ann Thai and Loren Goodwin, two veterans of the Bay Area food and hospitality scene.
Their vision for the project, which will occupy around 20,000 of Uptown Station’s 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, is a multi-purpose food hub in the mold of San Francisco’s Bi-Rite or Oakland’s Market Hall. They plan to offer organic produce, household goods, and grocery staples (milk, eggs, etc.), as well as hot and cold pre-prepared items such as sandwiches, salads, rotisserie meats, and soups. There will also be a full-service butcher shop, charcuterie and cheese counter, a café, flower shop, and grab-and-go pizza by the slice.
The idea, says Thai, is to provide a locally focused—but still affordable and accessible—grocery option during the daytime in a neighborhood saturated with bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues that come alive in the evening.
“We love going to Uptown; there’s really great restaurants. There’s Xolo, there’s Flora, there’s Rudy’s, but during the day, we always wished there was something that we could just grab quickly and go eat,” she says.
“And talking to the community of people that live there and work there, I think they see the same thing … Activating the daytime traffic will really be the key to getting more people to the Uptown area, which where this whole Uptown Station project can really change the game.”
The neighborhood’s potential is indeed tantalizing. In addition to residents in existing condo/apartment complexes and foot traffic lured by the thriving nightlife scene, several large new condo complexes have recently been proposed for the surrounding area (see here, here, and here). And besides the promise of luring a young daytime tech workforce flush with disposable income, Uptown Station’s ground floor is linked directly to public transportation via the soon-to-be-upgraded 19th Street BART station below.
“Our market is supposed to be for the community that we’re watching grow around us in the Uptown area, as well as, we’re hoping, the people that are traveling through,” Goodwin says. “We’re really excited about possibility of how many people could be coming through, and especially the mixture of Bay Area traffic that comes through the BART station. If we can potentially get people to just jump off the train really quickly and come shop for 10 minutes and then hop on the next train. How exciting would that be to be a way stop along the route home?”
While both partners have decades of experience in food and hospitality—Thai owns her own event planning business and helped open Lake Chalet restaurant and ERA art bar, while Goodwin is a professionally-trained private chef who cooked at Chez Panisse—this is their first market concept. Which is why they’ve brought in as the project’s consulting GM, Allison Ball, who helped manage and grow San Francisco popular Bi-Rite stores in the Mission and now Divisadero Street.
“What I love about Bi-Rite is that they’re interested in the stories of farmers, and people that are actually growing food in market,” Thai says. “That’s what we want to do, to tell stories of the people that we’re working with. This is a community with so many small, artisan producers, and we want this to be a platform to showcase their products.”
The two plan to eventually hire an executive chef to be in charge of the market’s rotating menu of freshly-prepared and grab-and-go items. They’re also toying with the idea of hosting periodic pop-up dinners, and will likely install a service window selling pizza by the slice on Telegraph Ave.
As for timing, project is set to come online in fall of 2016, when there will be hopefully be additional tenants opening up around them. Uptown Station’s ground floor, designed with an Ferry Building–style interior atrium with a “Paseo” main corridor, still has an additional 30,000 square feet of available retail space. That will be filled with a mix of restaurants and stores, according to leasing agent Laura Sagues of CBRE, who says they are “working with a growing number of very exciting potential groups.”
In the meantime, Thai and Goodwin will be working hard to create an anchor market within a project that has the potential to be an economic hub for a burgeoning Oakland neighborhood.
“We realize that we’ve been handed an amazing opportunity,” Thai says. “This is a legacy project for us … We want to leave the city better than when we found it, and to be able to be a part of this is really, really a cool thing.”
Newberry Market: 1954 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. For more information and news, go to newberrymarket.com.