Club May Be Clubbed

Mingles' digs may face demolition, and North Oakland launches a new farmers' market.

Mingle Elsewhere : Oakland nightclub mogul John Ivey, who manages Mingles Martini & Champagne Lounge — a popular hip-hop joint near Jack London Square — says he may leave the hip-hop game forever when his lease expires in 2009, culminating a decade at Mingles and more than thirty years running dance clubs in Oakland. But it appears developers may push him out first.

On April 28, San Francisco-based architecture firm Ian Birchall & Associates submitted a “pre-application” to demolish several Jack London properties, namely 367-377 2nd Street and 370-380 Embarcadero — the building that contains Mingles. The developers want to erect a nine-story building that would include 5,000 square feet of retail, 95 living units, and 126 parking spaces.

At this point, says city case planner Heather Klein, the project is in its early gestation. Indeed, the architects and developers are still fine-tuning their construction plans; on June 26, several appeared at a Jack London Neighborhood District Association meeting to discuss their design with local residents. It was informal, explains Simon Waddington, who lives in the area’s Tower Lofts, who adds that the developers asked for residents’ input as to the placement of balconies and the kinds of retail they wanted to see. Waddington says the neighbors lobbied hard to convert part of the property — specifically, the parking lot adjacent to Mingles — to green space, although the developers claimed they didn’t have the money to do it.

Granted, not every building is a shoo-in for redevelopment. Klein says the architects were slated to meet with Oakland’s Landmark Preservation Advisory Board on July 10 to reassess the historic merit of 377 2nd St. — it’s technically part of the wholesale produce district. Should the building be deemed historic, the process of officially acquiring and demolishing it would take longer, although it wouldn’t obviate the developers’ proposal.

Ivey, who recently faced a city hearing to revoke his cabaret license and a spate of bad publicity to stymie his business, has other things on his mind. He says he hasn’t yet heard from his landlady about any plans to crush Mingles under the weight of a new nine-story development.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” says long-time neighborhood resident Gary Knecht, who has seen developers come and go. “The city may give approval for a demolition permit, but then it takes time to get something approved to build. Usually if you have a rent-paying tenant you don’t send them packing until there’s a new building to replace them.” — Rachel Swan

Temescal gets its market : Like many Oakland dwellers, residents of the Temescal district have clamored for years for a neighborhood source of fresh and organic produce. The increasingly trendy ‘hood will soon have its wish in the form of a year-round weekly farmers’ market set to launch on Sunday, July 16. “All of the community has been lacking a fresh produce place to go pick up staples and such,” says Darlene Rios Drapkin, executive director of the Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District. The market, to be held in the parking lot of the Claremont Avenue DMV, is hosted by the Fremont-based Urban Village Farmers’ Market Association, which runs markets in Old Oakland, Montclair, Castro Valley, and several South Bay locations. It will accommodate more than fifty food and produce vendors, with a focus on organics, plus arts and crafts.

The DMV market idea came up more than a year ago, but the bureaucratic haggling took longer than expected because of the state-owned location, says Ron Pardini, executive director of Urban Village. After powwows with the state, regional DMVs, the California Highway Patrol, state Senator Don Perata’s office, and Jane Brunner, the district’s councilwoman, “we eventually convinced them it was a good community event for them to host on their parking lot,” Pardini says.

Attracting a grocery outlet has been a longtime goal for Temescallions, Rios Drapkin said. About eight years ago, a local property owner started a fledgling farmers’ market on 49th Street east of Telegraph Avenue, but that effort soon disintegrated. Rios Drapkin thinks high demand coupled with official support will help this new market thrive. Meanwhile, she says, the business improvement district is still trying to attract a mom-and-pop grocer, but so far it hasn’t had any luck. — Kathleen Richards

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