Bay CrossingsInterview

Jack London Square has never quite lived up to expectations. Your company has been chosen by the Port of Oakland to take it over. Why do you think people havenít gone for it?

Meet James D. Falaschi

Developer Tapped to Manage Jack London Square

 
Published: January, 2002

Jack London Square has never quite lived up to expectations. Your company has been chosen by the Port of Oakland to take it over. Why do you think people haven’t gone for it?

Six million people a year visit Jack London Square and it has the reputation as a clean safe place to go, so people do go for it. We see our job as building on that reputation and repositioning Jack London Square so more people will, as you say, go for it

What will these assets encompass?

The existing assets are Water Street I, Water Street II, and 66 Franklin st, Pavilion Building.

So you’re not really taking over Jack London Square. You’re just taking over selected properties.

Just to be clear, we’re not buying Jack London Square; we are buying the buildings. The land is leased form the Port of Oakland for 66 years.

But in fact the expectation is that you’re becoming the strategic leader of what is commonly known as Jack London Square.

That’s correct. We are assuming responsibility for the future development and asset management of Jack London Square. This will be accomplished through a true public /private partnership with the Port of Oakland

How does the existing Oakland Alameda Ferry fit into your plan?

It’s a tremendous link that we need to build on. We need better ties to other parts of the Bay whether it is San Francisco, Alameda, and Redwood City. We also need to mount an effort that will link the service to other existing transportation such as Amtrak, AC Transit, and BART.

What do you think about plans for cross-bay service?

It’s my understanding that the employment base is such on the Peninsula that it warrants a connection. How it is financed is the question.

Rents are dropping fast in San Francisco because of the dot-com implosion. What’s your pitch to prospective tenants able to choose between great deals in San Francisco and you’re soon to be buildings in Jack London Square?

First of all, Oakland has not suffered as greatly as San Francisco has in this downturn. So Oakland will still be a price sensitive option for users. The business climate is flourishing in Oakland with new leadership under the direction of Mayor Brown. The perception of Oakland has changed and people that move their offices to Oakland seem to be very happy with that decision.

Downtown Oakland was once on the waterfront. It was unwisely moved inland as part of misguided urban renewal efforts. Do you think it’s ever going to be possible to once again unite Downtown Oakland with the waterfront?

Absolutely Jack London has to be connected to other parts of the City, not just downtown, but, West Oakland, Chinatown and Fruitvale Transit Village. The community deserves access to the Waterfront

Tell us the Jim Falaschi story.

I was born and raised in Oakland. I attended Oakland public schools. I’ve been a long time member of the business community and have had very strong ties to the non- profit community, In fact I’ve probably focused more on community issues than my business at times, but that’s fine because the community been good to me

For more information visit www.newjacklondonsquare.com

Bay Crossings Reader of the Month 

James D. Falaschi

If you had a free day, how would you spend it?

With my wife Theresa, my children, on a Golf course, or on a river fishing

Your proudest moment?

Several; the day I got married, the births of my children, receiving Oakland’s Citizen of the Year Award, being the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King Day celebration

How would you like to be remembered?

That’s it, I would just like to be remembered

Your hobby?

Golf, Fly Fishing,

Your favorite book?

It’s hard to pick a favorite but the last book I read was Jack: Straight from the Gut, by Jack Welch

Your favorite film?

Godfather II

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Details, Details, Details

If you could invite four people to dinner living or dead, who would they be?

Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr, Colin Powell, Tony Soprano