Thursday, September 8, 2011

Updated: Oakland Hires San Francisco Redevelopment Director

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 11:10 AM

The City of Oakland has hired San Francisco’s respected redevelopment director, Fred Blackwell, to become an assistant city administrator who will oversee redevelopment, high-ranking city sources said this morning. Blackwell is known as one of the most effective redevelopment directors in the state. UC Berkeley professor Karen Chapple, a redevelopment critic, recently complimented Blackwell for his work in leading the San Francisco Redevelopment agency, saying that “San Francisco’s may be the only good redevelopment agency out there.”

Blackwell
  • Blackwell
Blackwell is to replace Walter Cohen, Oakland’s much-criticized redevelopment director over the past few years. Redevelopment directors are in charge of redeveloping blighted areas and attracting new development to the city. But Cohen has had a number of missteps in Oakland, including a bungled roll out of proposals to attract a second Lawrence Berkeley Lab campus to the city.

Update 4:15 p.m.: Mayor Jean Quan issues a statement on Blackwell's hiring: "Fred’s accomplishments mesh with my commitment to growth with equity, and engaging all sectors of the community in building our future. He will bring business, advocates, labor and neighbors together to create a stronger foundation of economic and community life in Oakland. I am delighted that my new City Administrator, Deanna Santana, has recruited a strong team to our City.”

Update 4:20 p.m.: Full release from the mayor's office:

OAKLAND, CA— Mayor Jean Quan’s Administration has named Fred Glover Blackwell, currently Director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, as Assistant City Administrator effective October 17. Blackwell will report to City Administrator Deanna Santana with responsibility for Community and Economic Development; Parks and Recreation; select Public Works functions; Human Services; Libraries; liaison to Museum services; and community relations including supporting public safety initiatives.

An Oakland native, Blackwell brings more than 15 years of high-level leadership in the nonprofit and public sectors, plus a track record of shepherding major public-private partnership projects to create jobs and opportunity.

“Fred’s accomplishments mesh with my commitment to growth with equity, and engaging all sectors of the community in building our future,” said Mayor Jean Quan. “He will bring business, advocates, labor and neighbors together to create a stronger foundation of economic and community life in Oakland. I am delighted that my new City Administrator, Deanna Santana, has recruited a strong team to our City.”

In San Francisco, Blackwell first served as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Development, and was responsible for neighborhood economic development, human services, capital and public space improvement projects, low and moderate-income resident needs, and neighborhood development. He led the design of Communities of Opportunity, an inter-departmental initiative aimed at making services more responsive to the City’s children and families. As Executive Director of San Francisco’s Redevelopment Agency, he led large scale developments including military base reuse, infrastructure investments, commercial developments, affordable housing production, and open space projects. He achieved results, including:

• Adoption of the Candlestick Point-Hunterspoint Naval Shipyard Redevelopment Plan which will bring more than 10,500 new units of housing, millions of square feet of retail and commercial space, and hundreds of acres of new parks to the Southeastern portion of the City;

• Design and implementation of an aggressive public housing revitalization effort that recently won a $30.5 million Choice Neighborhood Grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development;

• Securing the San Francisco’s first New Markets Tax Credit Allocation of $30 million;

• Overhauling the Redevelopment Agency’s workforce development program which now achieves over 35% local hire on Agency sponsored projects;
• Leading the City’s redevelopment efforts during various legislative efforts to eliminate it; and,
• Production of more than 300 units of affordable housing annually.

Blackwell’s prior work in Oakland included Neighborhood Improvement Initiative Coordinator for The San Francisco Foundation where he advanced various community development efforts focused in West Oakland. Additionally, he served as Director of the Making Connections Initiative for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where he focused development and communication efforts in the Lower San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland. Blackwell’s accomplishments have been recognized at the regional and national levels. He has been served on boards including California Redevelopment Association; LeaderSpring; Leadership Excellence; and Urban Habitat.

“Fred’s foundation and grant experience well match the current needs of the City of Oakland,” said City Administrator Deanna J. Santana. “He will be an important addition to a team that complements Oakland’s existing professional workforce, and helps propel us forward.”

In addition to Blackwell, Santana’s City Administrator’s offices team includes Chief of Staff Alexandra Orologas and Assistant City Administrator Scott Johnson.


Correction: Earlier versions of this story misstated Blackwell's new job title in Oakland. He is to be an assistant city adminstrator who will oversee redevelopment.

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