From the American Embassy in Beijing today, Governor Jerry Brown announced a $1.5 billion deal from a Chinese investment group to fund development of Oakland's 65-acre Brooklyn Basin project.
The project sits along the Oakland Estuary adjacent to Jack London Square and will feature 3,100 residential units, 200,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, 30 acres of public green space and renewed wetlands.
Brown, who is in Beijing on a trade mission, hailed the project which will create an estimated 10,000 jobs in California. The $1.5 billion deal is $200 million greater than the sum of all Chinese investments in California between 2000 and 2011, according to a study by the Rhodium Group. California accounted for more than a quarter of all Chinese investments in the U.S. during that same timeframe.
"This massive influx of Chinese investment will put thousands of Californians to work and dramatically improve Oakland's waterfront," Brown, a longtime Oakland resident and former Mayor, said. "This project is just one example of what's possible when business leaders in two of the world's most dynamic regions connect."
Michael Ghielmetti, president of Oakland's Signature Development Group, told the L.A. Times that his company negotiated the deal without the help of the Governor's office, but acknowledged that the Governor's visit probably helped get his business partners at Chinese firm Zarsion Holdings to sign on the dotted line. "It meant a lot to our investor to have some sort of celebratory affair," he said.
Back in Oakland, Mayor Jean Quan was apparently instrumental in bringing together the Far East and the East Bay: "One of the great, unique opportunities of my administration," Quan said, "has been to introduce investors from China to the many amazing opportunities for them here in Oakland."
The project has been in the works for more than a decade, since Brown himself was mayor of Oakland, but failed to find funding in the topsy-turvy aughts, before Oakland was cool.