Monday, August 2, 2010

Travel & Leisure: Jack London is "Next Great Neighborhood"

Last December, Oakland officials announced they'd identified two new waterfront ballpark sites near Jack London Square: 1) Jack London North, and 2) Victory Court. Both sites are in or near Oakland neighborhoods that are thriving with new restaurants and nightlife.

But don't take our word for it. These are the opinions of national reporters and experts, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Now, Travel & Leisure magazine is just the latest national publication to take notice of Oakland's thriving entertainment scene. Hot off the presses is Travel & Leisure's August issue, featuring Oakland restaurant successes such as Pizzaiolo, Brown Sugar Kitchen, and Commis. It also mentions places set to open soon, like Plum in the Uptown district and the Jack London Market, which will be Oakland's answer to San Francisco's Ferry Building.

Most telling is a section that declares Jack London Square as "The Next Great Neighborhood." Reporter Oliver Strand writes: "A stretch of once decrepit waterfront has been transformed into Jack London Square, now Oakland’s go-to district, with a series of landscaped promenades, converted loft apartments, and an ever increasing number of restaurants."

Nestled within this neighborhood, of course, are the waterfront A's ballpark sites. The Jack London North location has great potential. But even better is the Victory Court site, which would connect the Oakland waterfront and the Estuary to Lake Merritt and downtown, which are just a handful of blocks away. Also, Victory Court's public transit access and transportation options are excellent: it's near Interstates 880 and 980/24, and it's just a few minutes from Lake Merritt BART, the Amtrak station where Capitol Corridor and ACE commuter trains stop, and the Jack London Square ferry boat pier.

All of these factors will make an Oakland waterfront ballpark as good as the Giants' AT&T Park — or even better.

As Strand writes, the thriving Jack London Square area is one part of Oakland's "new, edgier identity thanks to emerging neighborhoods, a buzzing nightlife, and a renovated waterfront that promises to become one of the most ambitious gastro-destinations in the country."

A new ballpark will make the Oakland waterfront one of the best sports destinations in the country, too.

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