Project Utopia

Uptown Oakland selected by San Francisco Magazine as one of the top ten up and coming neighborhoods to move to in the Bay Area based on the presence of Art Murmur and our “nonstop art orgy.”

The “I hella love Oakland” ethos may not be new, but it’s kicking into high gear in Uptown. Just a few years ago, 25th Street had nothing to offer but a few artist studios tucked into abandoned auto repair shops. But these days, its commonwealth of high-octane pop-up galleries is the nexus of the Bay Area’s buzziest artist community, drawing 8,000 people every month for Oakland Art Murmur’s First Fridays. At the 25th Street Collective (477 25th St.), local creatives churn out upcycled leather jackets via Platinum Dirt and make your Goodwill clothes new again by way ofGhetto Goldilocks. It’s a full-on artisan incubator, complete with a storefront gallery, a wine bar, workshops, and edutainment events.

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Project Utopia

Edited by Jenna Scatena | Photo: Stian Rasmussen | January 3, 2013

Housing crunch? Rental woes? That doesn’t mean you can’t live the Bay Area dream in one of these 10 up-and-coming neighborhoods.

NOT SO LONG AGO, neighborhoods were almost akin to designer brands—the label you chose defined who you were. Whether you lived in Pac Heights or in the Mission determined if a new acquaintance would keep talking to you or walk away. But as the housing crunch continues to squeeze San Francisco’s cache of affordable dwellings, many no longer have the luxury of choosing a neighborhood based on how it meshes with their persona. Now a neighborhood’s features (a park, a dive, a Trader Joe’s) are the deciding factor for many renters and buyers. “People used to ask me to find them an apartment in, say, the Marina, but now they say, ‘Find me a neighborhood that’s close to BART and has good restaurants and a gourmet grocer,’” says longtime local real estate agent Mary Macpherson.

The good news is that there is no shortage of multidimensional neighborhoods in the Bay Area: In the last year an explosion of microhoods have been upping their cool status. They offer the expected new attractions—restaurants, playground and park upgrades, alfresco cafés—as well as those that transcend the status quo, like creativity laboratories and pop-up galleries.

If you find yourself waffling, it always helps to seek the opinion of strangers, so we polled 200 Bay Areans of various ages and backgrounds to ask: What makes your ideal neighborhood? We broke it down into essentials—affordability, walkability, safety, access to public transportation, and weather—and perks: bars, parks, shops, and culture. Then we asked responders to rank the importance of each quality. The responses were aggregated and then we set out in search of the Bay Area neighborhoods that most closely matched the pollees’ criteria (see the full list below). The answers, naturally, were not formulaic. It turns out that there’s a utopia for everyone—you just have to know where to look.

THE EDEN INDEX
Two hundred Bay Area residents on what they want in a neighborhood.

Demographics
Age range17 to 69 years
Median age: 29 years
Married
32%

With kids21%

Q: Which of these amenities are most important to you?

Yes, please!
Park
Wine bar
Gourmet grocery store
Trader Joe’s
Cafe
Bookstore
Variety of ethnic foods
Hardware store
Nightlife
Clean streets and sidewalks

OK, sure.
Boutique shops
Dive bar
Cocktail bar
Cheese shop
Whole Foods

Meh.
Playground
Day care center
Health clinic/doctor’s office
Safeway
Gym
Local festival
Parklet
A little grit

Q: What qualities matter most to you?
(In order from most important to least important)

1. Affordability
2. Safety
3. Walkability to amenities
4. Public transportation
5. Proximity to work
6. Accesibility of nature
7. Culture (theater, art)
8. Parking
9. Good schools
10. Ethinc and economic diversity

Uptown Oakland

Lani Conway | Photo: Stephen Loewinsohn | January 3, 2013

For…a nonstop art orgy.

The “I hella love Oakland” ethos may not be new, but it’s kicking into high gear in Uptown. Just a few years ago, 25th Street had nothing to offer but a few artist studios tucked into abandoned auto repair shops. But these days, its commonwealth of high-octane pop-up galleries is the nexus of the Bay Area’s buzziest artist community, drawing 8,000 people every month for Oakland Art Murmur’s First Fridays. At the 25th Street Collective (477 25th St.), local creatives churn out upcycled leather jackets via Platinum Dirt and make your Goodwill clothes new again by way ofGhetto Goldilocks. It’s a full-on artisan incubator, complete with a storefront gallery, a wine bar, workshops, and edutainment events.

Since 2009, the revamped Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave.) has been bringing in big-name acts like Vampire Weekend and Neil Young, but now Uptown is attracting a new wave of bars and industrial-design restaurants, as well as a motley crew of spirited artists, community organizers, and Pandora employees. Yes, there are high-rise condos with stainless steel appliances, like theUptown apartments at 20th Street and Telegraph, but within a five-minute walk, you can findMake Westing (bocce ball, anyone?), the Layover (a shoe-box dance dive), Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe (post-drink dinner fare), and Diving Dog Brewhouse’s DIY microbrew lab (1741 Telegraph Ave.; 1517 Franklin St.; 1805 Telegraph Ave.; 1802 Telegraph Ave.). Very soon there will also beDuende (468 19th St.), a restaurant by Paul Canales, formerly of Oliveto.

Around the corner from the Parkway Theater (474 24th St.) are the beginnings of a new bazaar-style town center that promises to bring even more murals and urban-ag markets to Uptown’s percolating mix, as well as an outdoor staging area, a beer garden, wood-fired organic pizza joints, and yoga houses. But if you’re looking for accessible green space, Farley’s East’s new parklet (33 Grand Ave.) is about all you can expect to find here.

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