San Francisco

Uber Plans to Sell Former Sears Department Store Building in Oakland

San Francisco-based ride-sharing firm Uber confirmed Friday that it plans to sell the former Sears department store building in Oakland where it once planned to place up to 3,000 employees.

"As we look to strengthen our financial position so we can better serve riders and drivers for the long term, we're exploring several options for Uptown Station, including a sale," Uber said in an email, referring to the property at 1955 Broadway.

"We remain committed to serving Oakland and our broader hometown Bay Area community," the statement read.

The company stressed that it remains committed to supporting Oakland, noting that it has donated $70,000 to help ensure every graduate of Oakland Unified School District can attend college and has given away nearly

$30,000 in free rides to a variety of Oakland organizations through its Community Credits Program.

Uber said it is making a broad effort to cut its losses so it can become a profitable company and it wants to keep all its employees together in one place instead of having employees spread across three or four offices.

The company has said that it plans to consolidate many of its local employees in a new headquarters building in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was excited in September 2015 when Uber announced that it had purchased the former Sears building, saying, "Uber is an innovative, game-changing company and its move to Oakland is game-changing for us."

Schaaf said the company's expansion to Oakland makes the city the "hottest new center for urban innovation in America."

Schaaf declined to make a direct comment today on Uber's plans to sell the building and instead issued a statement about other companies that are moving to her city.

Schaaf said, "In the last two years, major companies like Oracle, WeWorks, Blue Shield and now Delta Dental have moved into Oakland."

The mayor said, "There are few locations in the region which offer such an array of social, economic and transportation benefits as Uptown Station (the 1955 Broadway site). I look forward to working with the lucky buyer who hopefully will share Oakland's values of diversity, inclusion and equity."

Orson Aguilar, the president of the Greenlining Institute, an Oakland nonprofit that co-founded a "No Uber Oakland" campaign, said in a statement that it started the campaign "because we worried Uber could have negative effects on a city already struggling with gentrification, and because we never saw evidence that Uber had any real commitment to Oakland, despite occasional pleasant rhetoric."

"Clearly, that second part at least was right," Aquilar said. "Still, we never gave up hope that Uber would sit down and work with the Oakland community to create something that would be good both for the company and for Oaklanders. Uber, sadly, never had any interest in a real partnership with Oakland," he said.

Aguilar added, "We hope going forward that city leaders will be more wary of large corporations coming into our town, and will push big businesses -- including whoever buys this building from Uber - to help build an Oakland that's diverse and affordable for working families, nonprofits and the arts community."

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