Housing high-rise planned for former Marathon station lot

Rendering of 3500 Forbes


The Forbes Avenue site that held a Marathon Oil gas station until late last year could become the next private, high-rise housing space for students.

Jessica Leo, of developer CA Ventures in Chicago, and architect Jay Silverman, from Dwell Design Studios in Atlanta, gave a preliminary presentation about the proposed building on Aug. 25 to a virtual Oakland-wide meeting of the Oakland Planning and Development Corp.

The building — 3500 Forbes Ave., bordered by McKee Place and Semple Street — would have 296 units, ranging from studio apartments to three bedrooms, and be 102 feet high. That height complies with current zoning rules that set a limit of 85 feet plus a 20 percent bonus if the building meets certain LEED standards.

The building’s footprint would extend back from Forbes past the former Tong’s Cuisine, which closed permanently in April. The property that contained the gas station and Tong’s were owned by the same company. Silverman said they are planning on a pedestrian walkway behind the building to connect McKee and Semple.

diagram of building plan

Other features include 7,500 feet of retail space along Forbes Avenue, including an on-site leasing office, along with 233 parking spaces and 240 bike spaces. The parking would be in the center of the building, wrapped by residential units on three sides and covered on top. A pass-through exit/entrance on Semple and McKee will allow traffic to avoid driving through the adjacent residential neighborhood.

“This is really the first public presentation of the project and we're frankly very interested in the public's response and questions to the project, said Kevin McKeegan, of local law firm Meyer, Unkovic & Scott. “We really do hope that this is the start of a dialogue that can guide the process moving forward.”

The developers hope to present a formal zoning development review application to city planning sometime early in September. Then after several months of review and community meetings, go before the City Planning Commission in early 2021.

CA Ventures specializes in housing for college students, Leo said. Its first project was near its founder Tom Scott’s alma mater, the University of Illinois in Champaign. It now has projects near colleges in 31 states.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 412-648-4294.


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