Fruitvale Village, a transit-adjacent 255,000 square-foot real estate development with 47 housing units owned by a local nonprofit and completed in 2003, is getting a new commercial tenant: Google, the Alphabet, Inc.-owned technology company with a large Bay Area footprint in Mountain View and San Francisco. Far from a new corporate campus, however, Google's space in Fruitvale will instead serve as a tech lab, an education center with input from MIT that will serve local students by teaching computer science skills.
The Business Times learned of the lease from two anonymous sources, speculating that the exact location of the space will be 3301 East 12th St., Suite 101. USA Today reports via an email it obtained that the lease will house something called Code Next Lab, a Google program that's already been in pilot mode and involves the MIT Media Lab. Neither Google nor MIT spokespeople commented directly, but it appears as if the Code Next Lab will work with the Oakland Unified School District.
"It's incredibly exciting to have Google's presence in the Fruitvale," Claire Shorall, manager of computer science for the Oakland Unified School District told USA Today. "This really allows us to have a meaningful experience and exposure for middle-school students that plants the seeds of college and career readiness while still being in an environment that is sponsoring joy and creativity," she added. Google, along with most of its tech cohort, has been criticized for its lack of diversity, particularly as it pertains to black and brown employees and female employees.
Until now, Google has not tread in Oakland, and though streaming radio company Pandora has long called the city home, far fewer tech tenants have touched down in Oakland than in San Francisco. That's beginning to change with the entry of Uber, who last year snapped up the massive former Sears building downtown and hope to open a headquarters there next year. What kind of neighbor will such a large, wealthy company be against the backdrop of a historically diverse city that's rapidly gentrifying? That remains to be seen but is already the subject of much speculation. Recently, Salesforce donated $8.5 million to Oakland public schools to support STEM education, a move the Business Times reported last month, and others such as Apple have made more modest donations in Oakland, with that company giving 40 iPads to the East Oakland Youth Development Center not long ago.