City Walk, the big, unfinished white elephant in downtown Oakland — perhaps the most visible development casualty in the inner Bay Area of the recent credit crisis — looks like it's finally getting a second life. In late 2009, Atlanta-based Wood Partners closed a $5 million deal to take on the project, which is projected to cost about $55 million all told. Now, as the NYT reports, activity has resumed around the depressing monstrosity adjacent to the iconic twin-towered federal building, and they're aiming to be done sometime next year.

City Walk was abandoned by its developer, the Olson Company, back in 2007 after the company declared bankruptcy, walked away, and wrapped the unfinished structure in white plastic until such time as someone took it off their hands. Frank Middleton of Wood Partners was the one to do just that, and he made the decision despite consultant reports that downtown Oakland was a saturated housing market, after hanging out for six weeks in bars and restaurants and observing the new, young, single demographic that's moved there. "I waited until the last train left at 2 a.m. to see what would happen to the street life," Middleton says. It turns out, the streets weren't so empty at all and sort of safe! At least around downtown.