Oakstop opened its doors in 2014, operating on a “Space as a Service” model to offer flexible, tech-enabled, community-centric co-working and events spaces to fuel social inclusion.
As a Black owned and operated organization, Oakstop provides prime real estate for education, business, and social programs, with a focus on ensuring that BIPOC communities have priority access at below market rates. Its programming focuses on workforce development, business support services, professional development for artists, and other regular arts programming including exhibits, performances, and workshops.
As the fifth largest flexible space provider in the San Francisco Bay Area, Oakstop is partnering with CAST on the acquisition of its original 25,000 square foot building at 1721 Broadway. This $8 million purchase announced May 2023 will anchor its campus of five locations in downtown Oakland. The purchase represents the latest iteration of Oakstop’s nine-year track record for using commercial real estate as a vehicle for advancing social impact and economic mobility.
CAST has invested $2.5 million in the project, with additional lending support from Community Vision, with the goal of being bought out by Oakstop after a 5-8 year period. To date, Oakstop’s commercial real estate footprint includes 80,000 square feet of co-working and event space across six East Bay locations, five of which make up a veritable campus in Downtown Oakland for the city’s community to work, gather, and grow.
The historic Art Deco building located in Downtown Oakland consists of three levels of retail and office space that Oakstop has popularized for a vast range of uses including co-working, events, company off-sites, classes, pop-ups, art exhibits, and other community-centered events. Oakstop provides short term affordable rentals of commercial space, expanding from its initial 4,000 square foot suite to owning and operating the entire 25,000 square foot building.
Oakstop and CAST have partnered on space-related programming since 2018 and started working on the acquisition of 1721 Broadway in March 2021. CAST also holds a private office at Oakstop and is committed to the ongoing partnership to support Oakstop’s programming and activities as they work together on business operations and the building’s long-term structural sustainability.
Oakstop harnesses the value of its ecosystem to drive its social impact programs, collectively known as The Oakstop Effect, that focuses on workforce development, business support services, and professional development for artists. It is this ecosystem that cultivated Oakstop’s partnership with CAST. In addition to its investment, CAST is providing development consulting and a longer term strategy for financing facility upgrades to the project. CAST’s work in Oakland first began in 2016 through Keeping Space – Oakland, a program it established to provide training and funding for Oakland arts and cultural organizations seeking real estate assistance.
The partnership represents new possibilities for activating commercial real estate and mitigating displacement for artists and communities of color. As a next step, Oakstop is launching a collective ownership model for its employees and workforce development participants, most of which are Black artists based in Oakland, who will benefit from having ownership of a business that owns real estate in downtown Oakland. The combination of real estate ownership and employee ownership is a model for job creation and wealth creation that Oakstop and CAST can proliferate both locally and nationally as their partnership evolves.