Port Industry Thought Leader Perspectives
Port of Oakland real estate view: tough now, but 'sky's the limit'
Port of Oakland, July 15, 2020
COVID-19 has caused upheaval for Port of Oakland tenants, but its Commercial Real Estate Director says don’t despair. Better times are coming.
“This is a fantastic place to be,” the Port’s Pamela Kershaw said in a video interview. “The sky’s the limit.”
Ms. Kershaw spoke as part of a Zoom interview series updating Port operations amidst the coronavirus pandemic. She said Commercial Real Estate tenants have been hampered by shelter-in-place and social distancing orders, like other businesses throughout the region. But businesses operating on Port property remain resilient, she declared.
“Lots of our tenants have been working the whole time because they’re considered essential businesses or part of the supply chain,” Ms. Kershaw explained. “And every single one is re-inventing how they do their work.”
The Port’s real estate portfolio covers about 850 acres of mostly Oakland waterfront property. It stretches from Oakland International Airport to the Oakland Seaport. About 100 tenants lease Port facilities on the property. They range from transportation companies to trade associations.
Hardest hit economically by the pandemic have been restaurants in the Port’s portfolio, Ms. Kershaw said. Dining spots have offered take-out meals and delivery meals to counter the loss of customers, she pointed out.
About 3 million people visit the Square in a normal year, according to the Port. It’s one of Oakland’s busiest entertainment districts thanks in large part to a picturesque setting on the Oakland Estuary. Even larger crowds are expected once coronavirus fades, thanks to hundreds of new housing units opening nearby.
The Port has suspended festivals and special events that annually attract thousands to the Square, to adhere to state guidelines, Ms. Kershaw said. But outdoor spaces along the Square’s six-block-long waterfront are open for socially distanced visitors, she added.
“This is an important place for Oakland,” said Ms. Kershaw. “Especially now, it provides a break in a hectic day and chaotic time to see the sunlight sparkling on the water, watch the ships passing up and down the Estuary, and be at peace.”