I am the Oakland Industrial Real Estate Authenticity Police

On Tuesday morning a tweet from real estate blog @curbedsf caught my eye:

I used to live in a converted warehouse in West Oakland, and I'm interested in how this challenged but vibrant neighborhood is evolving, so I clicked through. Something about the image and accompanying text felt off to me.

Right across the street from West Oakland’s Poplar Playground and the West Oakland Farm Park you’ll spot 2828 Helen. Or, more likely, you won’t spot it, since its humble aluminum sided exterior still looks like precisely what it’s been for its entire life up until now: a West Oakland warehouse.


Did you know that Google Street View has a time slider?

When I lived a couple of blocks from Helen Street, the warehouse looked like this:

Here's the most recent Street View image:

It seems like a stretch to call this a renovation. I turned back to May of 2016:

Looks like a total tear-down to me. So, because reasons, I tweeted back to @curbedsf:

...and then promptly forgot all about it.

But layer that day, @curbedsf tweeted the link again, with updated wording:

"Warehouse." Nice. I clicked through to see that the article had been updated:

[Update: A tipster tells us this is not actually a renovation, as advertised, but rather new construction carefully crafted to look like a warehouse renovation. Peering back at the property as it appeared in 2014, the warehouse is there, although it looks quite different from its present form. Skip ahead to May of this year and most of the lot is cleared.

What's the story? Realtor Claudia Mills says that "90 percent" of the old structure was thrown out, but that she's "legally not allowed" to list it as a new home regardless. If true, this would make it technically a renovation by process of elimination, even if it somewhat defies our expectations of the term.]

I guess I am the anonymized "tipster."

If you want to do your own real estate sleuthing, the timeline in Google Street View is accessed via the little clock icon below the address block.