Uber drops pin in downtown Oakland

Ride-booking service Uber Technologies has purchased the former Sears building in downtown Oakland and plans to expand its headquarters there, according to the mayor’s office.

The building at 19th Street and Broadway had operated as a department store since the 1920s until Sears closed last year. It was then purchased by real estate development firm Lane Partners.

The 370,000-square-foot building is currently being renovated and will feature a large food court in an open-air market downstairs and offices upstairs, according to the developers.

Uber, the controversial app-based ride booking service, is preparing to make a major expansion of their headquarters there with the purchase, according to Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office.

At times during its six-year history, Uber has created headaches for regulatory agencies including issues with drivers’ insurance, handicapped access and airport pickups. Taxi companies have maintained staunch opposition to the company, which provides an extremely similar service with far fewer regulatory restrictions.

The mayor’s office and Uber officials will hold a news conference in Oakland City Hall this afternoon to provide more details on the project.