St. Marks, in the Chinatown section of downtown Oakland, sits at the intersection of history
and modern-day sustainability. When Fairstead acquired this century-old building — its
first deal outside New York — the company followed its already established playbook.
This generally starts with the securing of an extension to a community’s affordable status,
followed by investment in the property’s physical plant and eco-conscious profile.
At St. Marks that meant kicking off the most comprehensive rehabilitation program in
Fairstead’s portfolio with a complicated, year-and-a-half seismic retrofit that essentially
created a new foundation underneath the standing building. Some residents were
temporarily relocated to local hotels, but the building remained 80% occupied throughout
construction. Fairstead hired Mandarin-speaking liaisons to facilitate the work and lessen
confusion often associated with such dislocations.
The company then turned its attention to the installation of a solar roof, high-efficiency
lighting, new low-flow plumbing fixtures, and the conversion of gas-fired boilers to energy saving
heat pumps. That focus on the building’s carbon footprint has resulted in a cost
reduction of 30% over a two-year period.
In addition to benefitting from such high-impact renovations, St. Marks residents now have
access to a range of social services aimed at the needs of seniors, from health and wellness
to food security, from transportation to in-home care. They are likewise the beneficiaries of
Fairstead having taken over day-to-day, on-the-ground operations at the site, reflecting the
company’s core belief that property owners make the best property managers.