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A Monster Burger, with two patties and two pieces of cheese awaits hungry patrons at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011. (Michael Conti/Staff)

The Uptown district in Oakland is undergoing another round of renewal at a pace that seems from a distance almost feverish.

The pace actually only seems feverish because the dilapidated broken down buildings that blighted Telegraph Avenue between 19th and the 16th streets for years are by in large now fixed, painted and filled by some new venture or waiting to be filled by some new venture.

The Xolo taqueria is now neighbors with Flora, while a sprawling space around the corner on 19th Street is being torn apart and reassembled as what sounds like a modern-day bazaar under the direction of Oliveto chef Paul Canales.

Canales' plans for the space include a restaurant, bar, wine shop, pop-up stores, gallery and (stop to catch your breath again here) music stage.

A few blocks away, a pile of rubble fills the entrance to what will be a bar, called Feezy.

The Betti Ono gallery moved in earlier this year underneath the freshly renovated Marquee Lofts. Further down is Uptown Studios, a multi-storefront business that holds the Badd Boyz barbershop and Uptown Luxury Limousines. Their business sign advertises "Hair -- Modeling -- Fashion -- Limousines."

The only trace left of Oaksterdam, applied to the area when medical marijuana dispensaries dominated, is a back entrance to a building on Telegraph that belongs to Oaksterdam University. And the door is locked. The front entrance is around the corner on Broadway, which is designated for some unknown reason as downtown instead of Uptown, although it is the same building and virtually the same block.


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Gone is the scary skid row decay that made the idea of nighttime parking more than a block away from the Fox Theater an uninviting prospect. Although imperfections linger, sometimes in small details: an ornate, vintage display case in the doorway of the once decrepit Gauranty Building and Loan Association building is gloriously intact. But behind the glass someone left a beer bottle. The Newberry building (1920 Telegraph) is still empty, as is the lot across the street despite plans to turn it into an art garden.

There is also a surprising non-entertainment business life in Uptown that is nearly invisible after sunset. The Fat Cat Café sits next door to a dentist and a campaign office filled for the past several months with volunteers trying to help re-elect President Barack Obama.

Dogwood bar, Prospect Park diner, a shoe repair shop, a corner store, the future home of ShoeGroupie, an engraving shop and the Cathedral Building, whose lobby is filled by the Lux boutique, share a two-block stretch.

Café Van Kleef across the street is sandwiched between the Pacific Research Partners and World of Braids hair salon. The adjacent building is occupied by several businesses that maintain a low profile: Call for Wine, described on its website as "an innovator in direct-to-consumer sales and marketing for the wine industry;" a consulting group called EKI that is doing environmental remediation on the Oakland Army Base; an unidentifiable company called IDA; RPR Architects; and gkkworks, a construction management firm.

The Square Peg Design studio tastefully occupies 1631 Telegraph Ave. The strip is poised for a new wave of businesses. The pawn shop at 1635 Telegraph is empty, as is 1637 Telegraph. Entrez! (1645 Telegraph) moved out. Upstairs is Outbid, an online auction site.

Across the street stands Rocsil's, a shoe store that survived the darker days on the block and which is neighbors with the Feelmore510 erotic store.

Next: a pawnbroker, copy store, and the East Bay Korean-American Senior Services Center, the Somar lounge, East Bay Legal Aid and Make Westing lounge.

Oakland School for the Arts has a special exemption to operate as it does surrounded by bars. (Youth Radio and First Place for Youth are within the same three blocks.)

On Tuesday afternoon, the sound of bass guitar and drums from a band rehearsing seemed to be coming from a window of the school, which sits atop the Fox.

It could have been the headliner band, Refused, setting up for their performance that night at the Fox, or a student band practicing.