Six-and-a-half years after the Ghost Ship fire took the lives of 36 people, the Ghost Ship building has finally been torn down. And a low-income housing nonprofit may be turning it into an affordable housing site.
The Google Maps image above is the site of Ghost Ship, the former ramshackle illegal warehouse-apartment and underground party space whose deadly 2016 fire took the lives of 36 victims and produced years of courtroom fallout. Google Maps says the image was taken in July 2022. So as of ten months ago, the words “Ghost Ship” were still emblazoned on what remained of the scarred structure, a cruel, lingering reminder to the Fruitvale neighborhood of the tragedy that happened there.
But the words Ghost Ship, and the building itself, are no longer there. Bay Area News Group reports that the Ghost Ship building was finally torn down this month, and that a “fresh foundation now sits on the grounds of the Ghost Ship.” Moreover, the News Group adds that a community development nonprofit called the Unity Council bought the site for $2.56 million, with a strong likelihood of building a low-income housing complex there. The plan also will include a memorial to the fire victims.
“We did not take this decision lightly for sure,” Unity Council CEO Chris Iglesias told the News Group. “We’ll give this land much-needed care moving forward, the whole time being sensitive to the families. We just want to be really, really thoughtful in this process and just understand what a tragic event this was to them.”
An attorney for the Ghost Ship victims’ families, Mary Alexander, acknowledged to the News Group that the Unity Council had been “very sensitive — extraordinarily so — to the families and what they thought about it” in their communications. Alexander added that according to her conversations with them, “they’re going to make it into low-income housing.”
Iglesias was a little less committal on that idea in his remarks. “We wanted to acquire the site and start a community process,” he explained to the News Group. “Obviously there’s a huge need for housing in Oakland and the Bay Area in general. That is definitely something we’re looking at.”
But the Unity Council does have an established track record of building and managing numerous senior affordable housing sites, and they’re also helping build out the Fruitvale Transit Village. They are clearly not some “greedy developer.” And if they're providing housing for a low-income demographic, that helps avoid the type of Ghost Ship situation where people are living in ill-kept illegal units because of the price of Bay Area housing.
Related: Yet Another Party Decides to Call Itself ‘Ghost Ship,’ Faces Entirely Predictable Backlash [SFist]
Image: Google Street View