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Developer David O’Keefe and associates unveiled their proposed 42-story condominium development—Emerald Views—at a meeting on July 31st. (For background see the pre-meeting article “It’s Back: The 42-story high rise that would erase Schilling Garden” and Naomi Schiff’s post-mortem “An emerald view or a gaze through a Coke bottle fragment?”)

At 457 feet tall, Emerald Views would become the tallest building in Oakland and, indeed, the tallest Bay Area building outside of San Francisco, dethroning the 404-foot-tall Ordway Building, which currently holds that position.

Only three Lake-area buildings in Oakland have heights that are even within 100 feet of that of the proposed building: the above-mentioned Ordway, at 2150 Valdez Street; Kaiser Center, at 300 Lakeside Drive, at 390 feet high; and Lake Merritt Plaza, at 1999 Harrison Street, at 371 feet high. These buildings are located from 900 feet to approximately a quarter of a mile away from the proposed building.

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The proposed building would be adjacent to two much-shorter historic buildings: The Regillus, at 200 Lakeside Drive, at 115 feet tall, and the Bechtel Building, at 244 Lakeside Drive, at an estimated 165 141 feet tall. These buildings would both be dwarfed by the new building. Emerald Views would be four times taller than the Regillus and nearly more than three times taller than the Bechtel Building.

Mr. O’Keefe explained that the rationale for building as tall as they plan was to allow the building’s “footprint” to be smaller, while building the same number of units. (O’Keefe said that current zoning would permit the building of 375 residential condos.) Going tall, he said, allows for “two parts open space to one part building.” Limiting the footprint to only one third of the lot, in addition to allowing for more landscaping, increases the setbacks between the new building and the adjacent ones—“to be sensitive to our neighbors,” O’Keefe said.

The next-tallest Oakland buildings are 1111 Broadway (360 feet); the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building (345 feet; 1301 Clay Street); the Kaiser Engineering Building (336 feet; 1800 Harrison Street); the Clorox Building (330 feet; 1221 Broadway); the Elihu M. Harris State Office Building (328 feet; 1515 Clay Street), and Oakland’s City Hall (320 feet; 14th Street and Broadway).

In these comparisons I measure height by feet rather than by number of floors. The height in feet is directly relevant to the visual appearance of the skyline, blockage of views, casting of shadows, etc. A comparison by floors could be very misleading. For example, The Dellums Federal Building has many fewer floors (15) than the Kaiser Engineering Building (25 floors), but the Dellums Building is actually taller (345 feet compared to the 336 feet for the Kaiser Engineering Building).

(I originally had to estimate the height of the 13-floor Bechtel Building, by multiplying 13 floors by 13 feet/floor, which is the ratio that holds for the neighboring, similar-vintage Regillus. Thanks to V Smoothe for supplying me with a nonestimated height, viz., 141 feet.)