Downtown San Leandro – a Vibrant Place to Work, Gather, and Grow
In light of the City of San Leandro’s Sesquicentennial celebration, the City published a 24-page advertising supplement issued with the July 22, 2022 San Francisco Business Times. This supplement celebrates many of San Leandro’s businesses throughout its history as well as the many transformations that the business ecosystem has experienced over a century and a half.
Over the next couple of months we will be sharing these stories on this blog. The full supplement is available here. Throughout November, ahead of Shop Small Saturday, we will also be highlighting small businesses in San Leandro.
Centered around the plaza at East 14th and Davis Streets since the 1850s, Downtown San Leandro has served as the central gathering place for the community and businesses for over 150 years. Early hotels and general stores serving settlers in the 19th Century, made way for a trolley line, retail stores and offices serving the growing community in the 20th Century, with a growing number of modern offices, housing and mixed use serving the next generation of the 21st Century. Downtown San Leandro is vibrant and ever-changing, adapting to the needs of each generation.
The development of the Creekside Plaza Office Park directly across from the BART signaled a new era in downtown. Over the past 20 years, the 235,000-square-foot, three-building Mediterranean-style complex has been a valuable asset and recently sold, representing the largest suburban office sale in the East Bay since 2019.
The San Leandro Tech Campus was the next phase of Class A offices, with two of three planned 130,000 square foot buildings complete. Located directly across from the BART station, the campus is the central hub of the Lit San Leandro fiber optic loop and features a community plaza with the iconic Truth is Beauty statue. The 55-foot tall, statue of a graceful female figure is inscribed with the question, “What would the world be like if women were safe?”
In 2023, the Centro Callan project will bring the first true mixed-use project to downtown, with 197 residential units above a specialty grocer and retail spaces.
There is a lively and colorful mix of amenities for workers and residents in Downtown San Leandro. In addition to longstanding favorite restaurants serving everything from Mexican, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Indian cuisine to classic char-grilled burgers, new favorites bring modern and exciting options. Sons of Liberty Alehouse offers gastropub fare with craft cocktails, Slice House brings chef Tony Gemignani’s renowned pizza, and Ike’s Sandwiches will soon bring their inventive offerings.
A new gathering place
Retail West’s conversion of the old space on 1495 East 14th Street into a bustling urban eatery and taproom is the latest vision to come to life in the Downtown area. As for why he chose San Leandro, Founder of Retail West, Matthew Holmes, says several factors attracted them to Downtown including tenant success, transit-oriented development, and the overall charm of the community and architecture.
Fieldwork Brewing has brought their eighth and largest Northern California location to the project, a 7,800-square-foot craft brew paradise, featuring ample tap beers and a 75-year-old olive tree surrounded by bench seating, fire pits, and picnic tables.
“We had several craft breweries interested in our concept, but we ultimately wanted Fieldwork because they are community-minded and East Bay-based, not to mention they have the best Hazy IPA in the world,” says Holmes.
Holmes isn’t the only one enthusiastic about the brewery famed for its craft flavors and constant rotation of beer varieties. In fact, Fieldwork was recognized as the 10th fastest-growing private Bay Area company in the San Francisco Business Times in 2018.
Ultimately, Retail West saw Fieldwork as a seamless match for the city’s already established craft brew scene, which includes larger favorites like 21st-Amendment and Drake’s Brewing Company, as well as smaller operations like Booze Hound Meadery, Blindwood Cider, Menacing Fox Cider, House Kombucha, and Dr. Hops Kombucha Beer.
Completing the space, Dave’s Hot Chicken is serving up its nationally acclaimed juicy fried chicken on the other side of the Fieldwork taproom. French Laundry-trained chef, Dave Kopushyan, first created Dave’s Hot Chicken in 2017, and its devout following has helped it expand to 60 locations and counting.
“Even though it’s a franchise, its roots are totally funky and urban,” says Holmes. “They are going to put street art on the building, and we love how the art concept will reach out to the melting pot of San Leandro.”
San Leandro’s culinary scene is becoming increasingly refined and recognized in the region. “Several chef-driven restaurants in San Leandro can honestly stand alone in any urban environment, places like Top Hatters and As-Kneaded Bakery,” says Holmes. “And when chef-driven concepts succeed, it shows chefs that they have a safe haven to live, work, and start a business affordably.”