Town Crier: Montclair raises over $10K for Antioch Court project


Ginny Prior/for Bay Area News Group Kent Steinwert, the chair of Farmers and Mechanics Bank (F&M), appears recently in front of the new building his bank financed in Montclair. F&M will occupy one of three new spaces in the building.

MONTCLARION: April 25, 2019

It’s been 15 some years in the making, but plans are moving forward to transform Montclair’s Antioch Court into a pedestrian plaza. A handful of us reminisced the other night about our meetings back in the early 2000s, when we first started exploring this concept. With the Montclair Village Association behind it, the money is starting to come in for a community space on a little street with so much potential.

On April 7, the MVA held an open-air dinner on Antioch Court that raised more than $10,000 toward the goal. It was the perfect mix of food from Kouzina, wine from Urbano and live music — all on one of Oakland’s’ signature mild evenings.

Amid the 200-some neighbors who showed up that night, I met the chair of Farmers and Mechanics Bank (F&M), Kent Steinwert. F&M is moving into the new building next door and along with developer Basil Cristopoulos is donating at least $40,000 to the Antioch Court Project. We had a good giggle about the possibility of putting a movable fountain over one of the large potholes in the center of the street, but seriously, he’s excited about the plaza’s possibilities.

“I think it will allow for gatherings … from farmers markets to music venues. It will bring the community together … and I know from coming here that Montclair has a very strong community spirit.”

If you’d like to support the Antioch Court Project with a personalized brick or sign a petition of support, visit

Around town: Speaking of Montclair’s new building, I’ve already reported that it won’t have a rooftop restaurant (too much opposition from some of the neighbors) — but will have a nice front deck/patio for sipping Starbucks (scheduled to open June 13) and eating Spanish food at Alcalá — the sister restaurant of popular Berkeley eatery La Marcha.

Meanwhile, if you’re noticing fewer outside tables at restaurants in Oakland, it’s because the city is reportedly charging $2,100 per food establishment for a sidewalk permit. I’ve talked so far to two restaurant owners, who say it’s not worth it for them to put out tables and chairs anymore. For the ones who do pay the tab, I hope this pot of money goes toward sidewalk repairs in Oakland.

Email bag: Reader Lee Brenkman was in Mountain Boulevard’s mini-Starbucks the other Saturday afternoon, sipping a latte and reading my column.

“I got to the part about parking in red zones, looked up and saw … this UPS truck, about 3 feet out from the curb [in the red zone].” The driver was chatting with a woman for some 20 minutes, seemingly unaware of how his vehicle was forcing cars behind him to veer into oncoming traffic to get around.

Movie talk: Warriors Guard Steph Curry is the executive producer of the new faith-based film “Breakthrough,” which is clearly reaching a wider audience because of his support. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a wonderful family movie (and true story) about the power of prayer after a tragic accident in St. Charles, Missouri. Curry, whose Christian faith is widely known, appears in the opening trailer.

Ginny Prior can be followed on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and at Email her at


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