OAKLAND-Merle Hall, managing partner of Merle D. Hall Co. says he and a group of investors have purchased a former manufacturing center on Mandela Parkway and will spend upwards of $10 million to convert it into office space.

Buildings on the 5.6-acre property, located along Mandela Parkway, have been boarded up since 1989, when Nestle Corp. bought the ice cream manufacturer operating out of the building there and consolidated its operations. Originally, the plaza consisted of four city blocks of buildings, which was assembled in 1914 by the American Creamery Co. Hall, impressed by the architecture of the buildings when he purchased them, hopes to restore 145,000-sf into a “neighborhood of different designs.”

“The Oakland market is hot and the West Oakland market is very hot,” says Hall, explaining that low vacancies and reasonable rates are heating up the Oakland real estate market in recent months as tech companies and startups continue open shop in less expensive areas around the Bay. “Companies will be looking back four to five years from now and see this area as a most dynamic urban renewal. Location-wise, it’s outstanding.”

The would-be office development, dubbed Carnation Plaza, has a few potential tenants lined up, says Hall. Several biotech and telecom firms have inquired about leases, he adds. Asking price for leases will be approximately $2.25/sf/mo NNN with a $30/sf tenant improvement allowance, says Gabe Burke, vice president for Colliers International, who will handle the leasing transactions. Burke likened the Oakland property to San Francisco’s South of Market area (SoMa), without the skyrocketing rents.

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