In what amounts to a social experiment, Wired Science writer Adam Mann has named a Martian crater just 1.03 kilometers across after everyone’s favorite town. He named the crater through the Boulder-based organization Uwingu whose mission is to increase the public’s interest in astronomy and help fund scientific research.
The crater now named “Oakland” can be found at Martian latitude: -12.23° N, longitude: 298.69° E, but the jury is still out on how official the name is. According to Mann, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) maintains official naming rights to celestial bodies, but the process often gets bogged down in bureaucracy. For a small fee, anyone can name a crater on Mars through Uwingu. In the first 10 days of Uwingu’s name game, 7,000 Martian craters received monikers—compared to the 1,000 names given to Martian craters by the IAU in the last 50 years.
With more than 500,000 Martian craters yet to be named, Uwingu stands to raise a fair amount of cash. But the IAU cited concerns over free and equal access to space as well as internationally recognized regulations to say, “no purchased names can ever be used on official maps and globes.” So name away, but buyer beware.
Back here on Earth, a crater of a different kind got underway when Mayor Jean Quan and representatives from Oakland-based Signature Development Group and Beijing-based Zarsion Holdings Group broke ground last week on Brooklyn Basin along the Oakland estuary. The $1.5 billion, 65-acre project is slated to bring 3,100 homes in five residential towers, 30 acres of park space, 200 boat slips and a string of shops to the area that lies just south of Jack London Square.
“This is a symbol of Oakland’s renaissance in so many ways,” Quan said.
In a city that has seen rents rise by 25 percent over the past two years, the addition of 1,200 units set to come to market in 2016 should help steady prices. The mayor also hopes the project will bring 10,000 new construction jobs and the entire project, as currently planed, takes care of almost half the total units called for in her 10K Two plan.
But Brooklyn Basin isn’t the only development being planned along the swiftly changing waterfront. In addition to a project aimed at transforming the old Oakland Army Base into a warehouse and logistics center and the groundwork for a new A’s ballpark, Jack London Square Ventures has already begun construction on a 49,000 square foot food and entertainment destination.
The new development will take over the Pavilion Building in Jack London Square that formerly housed a Barnes and Noble. According to Full Court Press Communications, “The final concept will include casual dining, featuring a gastropub and coastal California cuisine, luxury bowling lanes, both state of the art and vintage interactive games and a large outdoor beer garden with a long bar and bocce courts.”
“This is a one-of-a-kind waterfront venue,” Mike Auger, Trifecta Management Group’s managing partner, said. “We are looking forward to finalizing and debuting our unique food and entertainment concept. One that incorporates everything we’ve learned from projects around the country, but something that uniquely reflects what this market wants.”
But believe it or not, the area along Oakland’s estuary isn’t the only place a near-water business can make a buck, even in our current drought. April Quinn and her husband Angelino Sandri, who operate Gondola Servicio on Lake Merritt, have seen a huge increase in their business all thanks to the unusually dry weather, according to the San Francisco Business Times.
In typical winters, Sandri says, rain keeps customers away and he’s only able to do nine or 10 cruises a week—in real thin times only one. But during the driest year in California’s history, the Lake Merritt gondolas have been in high demand reaching an average of 48 cruises a week over the winter months.
For now, Gondola Servicio launches cruises out of the Lake Merritt Boat House at the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill, but they’re looking to expand. Hiring new gondoliers, especially ones that can sing, is tough business, but a new contract from the City of Napa may see the authentic Venetian gondolas floating thought that city’s downtown sometime soon.