Exclusive photos of Drone views of Oakland’s Oak Knoll development

Cristopher Centers

OAKLAND — There is activity once again on the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital site in the east Oakland hills. Work at the Oak Knoll Development continues after an annual city grading ban from Oct. 15 – April 15, and after the coronavirus pandemic clobbered the Bay Area, halting many […]

OAKLAND — There is activity once again on the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital site in the east Oakland hills.

Work at the Oak Knoll Development continues after an annual city grading ban from Oct. 15 – April 15, and after the coronavirus pandemic clobbered the Bay Area, halting many construction projects for several months.

Developer SunCal is constructing more than 900 townhomes and houses, with miles of bike and walking trails, a restored creek, 67 acres of open space and 72,000 square feet of retail. City planners proposed 57 affordable units of varying size, including senior and possibly independent living units, on the 183-acre former Naval Medical Center property.

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The project will represent one of the largest developments in the city in recent years in terms of acreage. Located at Mountain Boulevard and Keller Avenue, it’s the second-largest single active development in Oakland, after the 3,100-unit Brooklyn Basin project by Signature Development.

In 2017, the Oakland City Council voted 5-3 to go ahead with the project, ending a saga dating back 20 years, when the hospital closed in 1996 after decades of treating service members wounded in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The Oak Knoll golf course was active in the 1920s and 1930s and featured a mission-style building, Club Knoll, built in 1924. The golf clubhouse, which later became an officers club, is being disassembled and its asbestos-impregnated stucco walls replaced. It will soon be moved from its current location at the southwest corner of the site.

In its day, with its sweeping views of the bay, the clubhouse was a popular venue for weddings and other gatherings. Under the latest proposal, the renovated and relocated building might again serve such a function.

The development has had a long history. SunCal, with Lehman Brothers, bought Oak Knoll for $100 million in 2006. In 2008, they landed in bankruptcy court, and the Oak Knoll Coalition helped secure over $4 million from the court to address blight and security at the abandoned base. All the buildings, except Club Knoll, were demolished in 2011.

In May 2014, SunCal purchased Oak Knoll for the second time for $76 million, considerably less than the $100 million previously paid.

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