Thursday, May 15th, a throng of Oaklanders swarmed through the gates to a concrete lot by 23rd and Broadway for the official opening and ribbon-cutting of Hive Oakland, a densely and strategically developed block in Uptown that provides space for living, working, and community events.

The weather was hot and sticky, but the event was sweet as honey: refreshing iced teas and iced coffee, cookies with chocolate chips melting in the heat, the excited buzz of beautifully-dressed attendees, and speeches on economic inclusivity, sustainable development, and Oakland pride given by Mayor Jean Quan, Inner City Advisors’ Jose Corona, Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and others.

What distinguishes the Hive from other development projects is the close collaboration of everyone involved — businesses, developers, city officials, community members — and the strong sense of a mutually driving purpose that extends beyond monetary goals. A project of Signature Development Group, the Hive will feature Impact HUB Oakland, Numi Tea’s headquarters, Balfour Beatty Construction, a brewpub from Drake’s Brewing Co., Calavera Restaurant, Flynn ArchitectureTruve Fitness, Sweet Bar Bakery, a small Red Bay Coffee retail joint, Signature Development’s own headquarters, an apartment complex, and more.

Although several businesses have yet to move into the Hive, and the apartments are estimated to be finished mid to late next year, May 15th’s ribbon-cutting marked an important milestone: on Monday, Numi Tea officially moved into its new Hive headquarters. Ahmed Rahim, co-founder and CEO of Numi, has played an instrumental role in the conception and actualization of the project, and Rahim’s sister Reem Hassani, co-founder and Creative Director at Numi, was the brains behind the Hive’s name.

Six years ago, Ahmed Rahim had a dream of a vibrant merchant community taking off at Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin, inspired by San Francisco’s ferry building. Mike Ghielmetti of Signature Development knew that that wouldn’t be feasible at the Brooklyn Basin for a long time, and in November 2011 pointed Rahim to a space by Broadway and 23rd St. “The building was a massive shambles,” said Rahim. However, his good friend Mani Niall of Sweet Bar Bakery was already nearby and Ghielmetti was enthusiastic about Rahim’s dream of establishing a tight-knit sustainable business and housing community and looked into acquiring the rest of the block. Rahim’s partner Impact HUB Oakland then signed the Hive’s first lease, and the dream was underway!

“The Hive is about how to live a well-balanced life,” Rahim explained after a tour of Numi’s beautiful new facilities. “Everything a person needs to sustain themselves throughout the day is here; you don’t need to leave this block. Pilates, a workspace, a bakery, and even a bar. The hope is that we develop a lot of jobs, and with Murmur nearby, become a real cultural space.” On the mic, Jose Corona expressed a belief that the Hive’s influence would extend far past Uptown’s perimeters. Rahim agreed: “I think this will have a big impact in the country in terms of how urban communities can work together — how developers, small business, entrepreneurs, the community, and the city can all work together. The number of people who’ve come together already in three months is amazing. Once the courtyard [which is designed as a open community space] is completed, even more so.”

The Hive opening

Photo courtesy of Jonathan DaKarai