Officials hope Kaiser's plan to buy, build in Oakland will be catalyst for business

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland's biggest private employer, Kaiser Permanente, plans to construct one of the Bay Area's largest buildings, and it's doing it in Oakland.

The 28-story building will be located on 21st between Telegraph and Broadway, across the street from the Paramont Theatre.

RELATED: Kaiser Permanente to build new skyscraper in Oakland

"There is no place like home," says Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson. "We have enjoyed a wonderful, wonderful partnership with Oakland, California. It is our home."

Oakland has been home to Kaiser for more than 70 years.

At a Monday morning press conference, the company announced it that it will build a new national headquarters near downtown. The 28-story building will be the biggest in Oakland and the complex will accommodate over 7,000 employees.

It's not just that the company is building in Oakland that has city leaders excited. They say that Kaiser buying the land in Oakland sends a strong message to the business community.

"I think it sends a message that Oakland is worth investing in," claims Mayor Libby Schaaf. "It frees up space for other companies to grow or come to Oakland. That means more jobs, more economic vitality."

The mayor hopes that with Kaiser anchored in Oakland, it will help to attract new businesses to town, especially following some recent setbacks.

In 2015, Uber bought the former Sears building, which is now called Uptown Station, with plans to expand to in Oakland. But in 2017, they sold it.

Oakland is also plagued by high crime and an endemic homeless issue, which can impact businesses looking at quality of life issues for its employees.

The city believes Kaiser's move may help them through some of those hurdles.

"We see it is a net positive for job development, for the participation of our small local businesses and bring more businesses. So we really think this is catalytic, and... really big project in so many ways," says Oakland councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who represents the district where the Thrive Center will be built.

Joshua Simon is CEO of the nonprofit East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, which is focused on Oakland's Asian American Community. He says Kaiser's new building will also be a boost for local businesses as it provides community meeting spaces and other resources. He is also encouraged by the company's commitment to the local work force.

"They are investing in affordable housing in the area. And that investment was done as a challenge grant to other corporations, to say, 'If you are coming to this area, you should also be investing in affordability in your work force, affordability for people who live here,'" says Simon.

The mayor also points to other big business moves expected to happen within the next year. Blue Shield is leaving San Francisco to move to Oakland. And the online payment app Square will lease Uptown Station.

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