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City of Oakland Facade/Tenant Improvement Projects

Facade and Tenant Improvement projects in Oakland, CA

Cafe Madrid

Columbia Outfitting Co.

Awaken Cafe

1802-1804 Telegraph


5500 San Pablo

Love Always Child Care Center

Vo’s Restaurant


Pacific Ring Sports

Quality Body & Fender


4001 Broadway

13th Street and Broadway

Oakland Hot Plate

Tyco CPA


7200 International Blvd

7th Street

Facade and Tenant Improvement Program for the City of Oakland

For over ten years, Komorous-Towey Architects has provided architectural services on an On-Call basis for the City of Oakland’s commercial Façade Improvement Program and Tenant Improvement Program. This program is part of Oakland’s comprehensive commercial revitalization strategy. This partnership program offers matching grants, design assistance, construction oversight, and permit processing assistance to participating property owners and merchants.

As part of the program, Komorous-Towey Architects has worked closely with City staff and agencies as well as a diverse clientele of property owners on challenging small and large-scale projects. The program aims to improve façade elements such as rehabilitation of historic features, windows and doors, lighting, landscaping, and signage. Services included studies of the specific character of each district in order to provide improvements that are consistent with and to enhance that district.

Project Definition

Many façade projects have started with the client looking for “inspiration” and the possibilities open to make an impression with the design of their façade and signage. For example, Quality Auto Body’s frontage encompasses an entire city block, but the original nondescript concrete block façade with no signage did nothing to affirm their presence. A complete façade “makeover” was the solution. The Kids In Motion business owner bought a Victorian building on Broadway and needed to announce the presence of her business. The solution for her was new well-designed signage and lighting.

On some projects our involvement has started when remodeling of the building is already underway, and timing of the design work is very critical. For example, with Quickly and Nama Sushi the owners were almost ready to open, with the interior work in progress and no concept for the exterior. We had to work quickly and tailor the scope and design solution to the schedule.

Many times, there are Accessibility issues that must be explained to the client and addressed in the design. At 7200 International Boulevard we designed accessible building entrances as part of the façade redesign, which sought to solve a thorny accessibility issue that would have compromised security.

Design and Client Communication

We work to communicate the design concepts, design information and finishes in a format that best suits the needs of the client and the project in each situation. Presentation materials are geared to the client and to the scope of the project and vary between projects. To help the client envision the design, some designs have best been communicated through digitally manipulating photographs of the existing conditions. At Tayco CPA in the Dimond district, the project scope consisted mostly of “cleaning up” the façade and a new sign. A Photoshop elevation was well suited to demonstrating to Mr. Tayco how professional his business could look.

Some KTA renderings have mixed both computer and hand-sketched elements into the photographs. This method is suitable where more of the façade is being altered. We used this technique with the Vo’s Restaurant project. On other projects, such as a Quality Auto Body or a new building entry element for Creative Growth and 1155 7th Street, the design was best conveyed through a three-dimensional computer rendering of the design. Other designs like Love Always Daycare, with its extensive transformation from the existing to the new, we used colored, hand-sketched renderings to convey the finished design concepts. On a project like Columbia Outfitting, the existing façade was completely covered and KTA worked from original construction blueprints and our own CAD drawings to convey to the City and the contractor more precisely what the new scope of work would entail to restore the façade in the most economical way.

KTA has developed floor plans including complete interior layouts for projects such as Catered To You and Chuck’s Crepes. This work included working with the client to determine functional needs and the arrangement of the optimum flow of patrons through the space. For these interior projects KTA has also selected all interior finishes and prepared color boards and has assisted with furniture selection.


We have worked to support the client’s efforts to carry through with the project. On the award-winning Columbia Outfitting Co. KTA assisted the contractor throughout the construction period, as field conditions were uncovered. On other projects we have continued to assist the owners during construction as with the Awaken Café, helping them work through problems with the contractor.

Client feedback

“Thanks so much for doing such a fabulous job. I’m so excited!”

~Derreck Johnson, Home of Chicken and Waffles

“…amazing job that you have done for me on this, my project and life’s dream. Truly it has been and I’m sure will continue to be a pleasure to work with you and the entire office of Komorous-Towey Architects.”

~Derrick Beaudrreaux, Mosswood Café

“Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to help me. I appreciate your kindness and willingness to share your great thinking.”

~Laura Stearn, Kids in Motion

“I can’t thank you enough for the offer to put something together for the interior finishes on our limited budget.”

~Christine Lebron, 2863 Broadway

“KTA listened to our ideas for the façade of our new café and designed a colorful and interesting strorefront that works well with the building’s design and has the open feeling between sidewalk and café that we were looking for. They also help us through the challenges of the construction process.”

~Cortt Dunlap, Awaken Café

  • Status : Complete
  • Client : City of Oakland
  • Location : Various Locations, Oakland, CA
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