Transforming Oakland’s Abandoned Church into Affordable Housing

Historical Preservation as a Work of Art

Transforming Oakland’s Abandoned Church into Affordable Housing

Historical Preservation as a Work of Art

Originally built in 1892, the Brooklyn Presbyterian Church of Oakland sat vacant and unused for over seven years. In 2022, Detra Harris, Principal and Developer at Strive Real Estate, stepped in to transform the location into affordable housing through adaptive reuse. At the beginning of the process, Precision Property Measurements was hired to measure and model over 17,000 square feet of the building to make this remodel possible.

As-Built Scope of Work

  • Revit Model
  • Floor Plan
  • Roof Plan
  • Electrical Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Interior Elevations

A Century of History to Preserve

The church originally housed many of the homeless who needed shelter after the 1901 San Francisco earthquake. This was the perfect project for Detra, as she was particularly targeting opportunities that could bring affordable housing to homeless seniors in Oakland. To pay further respects to the rich history, Detra adopted “Brooklyn” from the original name of the church and used it in the new name. The building is now called Brooklyn Arms Apartments. The outstanding history of this church remains preserved through the remodel. Because the city made restoring the original designs of the building a requirement, the architect for this project required As-Builts to revert modifications that were made over the century.

Refreshing the Layout With a New Purpose

The developer discovered a large open space in the original plans (pictured left). This space was used for the main office in the original build. This finding benefited their project as they proposed studio spaces in that large space. They received pushback from the city, but because the original drawings had divided that space into small rooms, they were able to bring back the style of the 1800’s in favor of their entitlements. The As-Built plans helped them get their design approved by the city.

“We received three bids and selected PPM based on the cost, response time, and communication. PPM was able to meet our timeline with expedited turnaround.”

- Detra Harris, Principal and Developer at Strive Real Estate

17,000 Square Feet Surveyed in One Day

The property is large and has varying pitches for different sections of the building. Our surveyors used the GeoSLAM ZEB Horizon scanner for this project because it was the best scanner to reach the heights that needed measuring while ensuring accuracy. To accommodate the building, our surveyors scanned each space and the entire exterior to capture as much data as possible. The work was split between three people: one person scanned the main sections of the building, one person scanned the more difficult areas, and person one photographed the building. Dividing the work helped each surveyor focus on one task and complete the data capture in one day.

The most unique parts of this property to survey were the attic spaces. The pitch of the roof was far too steep to walk along, so they had to capture data from inside of the attic. Aesthetically, our surveyors agreed the historical detail of the building was exquisite inside and out.

The Challenge of Modeling 180° of Slope Variations

One of our BIM modelers, Pyra Pao, modeled this project in Revit. He explained that everything about this property was intricate. From the interior decor to the support posts, seating bleachers, and facade – everything was unique.

The most significant challenge Pyra experienced was modeling the upper seating bleachers in the main sanctuary. The seating wrapped around 180° of the room on a narrow slope connecting to the walls, and the slope alternated between different angles before it returned back to its mirroring side. The solution to this challenge was to use duplication in the extrusion. For the facade, he used the sweep command to save time and satisfy our client’s delivery timeline.

"What I enjoyed the most about this project was modeling the organ located in the main sanctuary. I’m very proud of myself for nailing the details and how awesome it looks on the stage."

- Pyra Pao, Production Drafter at PPM

Remodeling Is an Art

Alongside providing a home to many elderly in Oakland, this building is considered public art. You can find this property on the national registry for historical projects. Brooklyn Arms Apartments has one of the largest stained glass arts in Northern California from restorations during the development. Strive Real Estate and Detra Harris are proud to bring public art and affordable housing to their communities under a duo umbrella, and our team was honored to provide accurate As-Built plans for such a beautiful redevelopment project.

To learn more about Detra and her work at Strive Real Estate, visit https://striverealestate.net/.