Skip to main content
  • Oakland
  • East Oakland

Black Cultural Zone – Liberation Park

Project Status: In Development

The Black Cultural Zone, conceived in 2014, addresses the disparate impact of decades of disinvestment in East Oakland and more recent displacement of Black People and Black Businesses from their legacy communities here in Oakland by centering Black Arts and Culture within a community development framework.

Photo by Amir Aziz

Rendering of Liberation Park Residences by Y.A. studio

Members of the CAST team, BCZ, blink!LAB Architecture, RBA Creative, and the East Oakland community following the unanimous approval of Oakland’s City Council on March 7, 2024. Photo by RBA Creative.

BCZ's Akoma Market at Liberation Park. Photo by Andria Lo

Akoma Market. Photo by Alison Yin

Beginning in November 2020, Black Cultural Zone (BCZ) & CAST have partnered to develop Liberation Park, a community-controlled space that reflects over 10 years of organizing and visioning by East Oakland residents. In support of BCZ, CAST provides partnership, resources, and expertise in real estate development.

The project includes a Market Hall and Cultural Hub co-developed by BCZ and CAST, and Residences developed in partnership with Eden Housing. Both strive to foster Black empowerment, economic opportunity, and cultural expression while enhancing infrastructure, transit-oriented development, and sustainability in the area.

In March 2024, the City of Oakland’s City Council unanimously approved the project that will rise at the 1.22 acre property at Foothill Boulevard and 73rd Ave, currently home to Liberation Park. Black Cultural Zone plans to build 119 affordable housing units on the parcel, along with a bustling three-story “Market Hall and Cultural Hub” that will host a food hall, cultural center, outdoor skating rink, support local businesses and artists, and create a stable economic hub for East Oaklanders.

Once the site of a JCPenney Auto Center at the popular Eastmont Mall in the 1980s, the lot was converted into a police depot during the crack epidemic until it was deserted as an abandoned field of weeds for nearly two decades.

The Black Cultural Zone Collaborative and Community Development Corporation reclaimed and rehabilitated the space into today’s Liberation Park, providing a springboard for Black entrepreneurs at its recurring Akoma Market and a place for local residents to gather to watch outdoor movies or roller skate with their families.

Akoma Market vendor Nicole Borders of Pound Bizness. Photo by Andria Lo

The Market Hall and Cultural Hub intends to build upon that legacy by providing affordable space to Oakland-based small businesses, artists and cultural workers, and neighborhood services. The proposed 31,000 square foot Market Hall designed by blink!LAB Architecture contains an outdoor courtyard, pop-up vendor spaces inspired by the success of BCZ’s Akoma Market, and an outdoor roller skating rink for all ages based on the popular Liberation Park Community Skate events hosted at the existing skatepark. The ground floor will have a performance venue and flexible dining/event space, with its second and third floors offering coworking and office space envisioned to provide small business resources.

The Residences includes a six-story affordable-housing building with 119 apartments—a range of studios up to three-bedroom units—rented to tenants making between 20-60% of the area median income. Designed by architects Y.A. studio, the housing is tailored to home-based businesses, as well as veterans and other special populations to serve the needs of families.


Visit to learn more about ongoing events at Liberation Park and explore BCZ’s vision to unapologetically center Black arts, culture, and economics to collectively design, resource, transform and build collective power for its communities.

Carolyn Johnson


Black Cultural Zone

We see this as a prototype for the kind of developments we need throughout East Oakland. When we tie housing and local jobs together and create centers of cultural identity, it improves not just our immediate community, but it strengthens the entire city.

Related Posts

Explore all