Snapshot of a Favorite Neighborhood: Rockridge in Oakland, CA

by arlene on May 15, 2010

New Rockridge homeowners

It was a true pleasure to hand over the keys yesterday to my lovely clients who just purchased their first home in Rockridge, in of the most coveted neighborhoods in Oakland, CA. Rockridge has a dual identity: what REALTORS call Rockridge extends roughly from Broadway down past College Avenue to 51st St to the South and nearly to Telegraph Avenue to the West and to Woolsey to the North. “Upper Rockridge” exists above that to the East, and includes both lovely big vintage homes, and new construction that resulted from the fire of 1991. That area has a very different look and feel, composed primarily of four bedroom+ homes, many with views. While they share a zip code and an MLS code, these two faces of Rockridge tend not to share buyer populations. Upper Rockridge is a haven for quiet streets, low crime and a consistently affluent feel. Rockridge proper, those streets that surround College Avenue, attract buyers for just the opposite aspects.

Rockridge is one of Oakland, CA’s most popular neighborhoods, both for home buyers and for visitors. The many eclectic shops, first-rate restaurants, bookstores and cafes make it a destination, and on weekends College Avenue is buzzing with activity. The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station is right across the street from two culinary destinations. Oliveto’s has won numerous awards for its locally-sourced California cuisine with a Mediterranean accent. Below the restaurant is a very popular cafe, surrounded by the Market Hall, an epicurean garden of delights. There you can find the full range from a morning pastry and latte, to all of the finest ingredients for the feast you will prepare: fresh pasta, organic produce, cheeses from around the world, locally-sourced fish or meat. . .the choices are dizzying as are some of the prices. Excellent quality is the standard, and the market is a feast for all the senses. A wonderful flower market adds to the ambience with a tapestry of colors. For those who are more than a BART ride away, you still can enjoy some of the pleasures of the Market Hall through the mail. Across the street is a less expensive but still high-quality and very popular choice, Cactus Taqueria. This is a family-friendly home of burritos, tacos and home-made agua frescas.

All of these urban amenities create the kind of buzz, or high latte factor or walkscore that clients like my latest couple want, and are willing to pay for. My buyers are a classic example of that profile: young professionals who are used to life in a major metropolitan area and want to be able to walk to a cafe, grab a latte and take public transit to work. In the evening or on weekends they want to leave their cars behind and walk to a restaurant, or just soak up the experience. Rockridge also boasts an especially nice, recently constructed library that serves as a community hub.

Wainscoting with Bradbury & Bradbury wallpapers

Long before College Avenue in Oakland was brimming with the latest shops and restaurants, it was a neighborhood known for the consistency of Arts & Crafts architecture. The styles of this movement are my passion, and that passion is shared by many buyers who want to make a bungalow their home. These homes are characterized by classic floor plans including a living room with a fireplace bracketed by bookcases below, and windows, often with leaded or colored glass above. Formal dining rooms are essential and many include a built-in buffet, often with leaded or beveled glass, box beams in the ceilings and wainscoting on the walls. The most desirable of examples will have unpainted wood and often the frieze area above the wainscoting will feature a stenciled pattern or a wallpaper frieze. The most common floor plan features a hallway off the dining room from which you access the two bedrooms with a bathroom in the middle. In the larger or remodeled versions there may be a stairwell to access more bedrooms upstairs. Many of the homes in Rockridge now have updated kitchens and baths that combine modern expectations with period aesthetics.

My clients were fortunate to purchase a wonderful brown shingled bungalow with an especially inviting broad porch that runs the width of the home. When I pulled up to their new home yesterday I noticed their neighbor sitting on his porch, and I suspect my clients will be spending many happy hours porch sitting, and watching the neighbors walk by!

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