James E. Roberts - Obayashi

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About James E. Roberts - Obayashi

Founded in 1932 in San Francisco, Moore & Roberts was formed during the depths of the Great Depression by Gene Moore and Jim Roberts. The company built a reputation for constructing landmark structures throughout the Bay Area and Northern California such as the Holy Cross Mausoleum in Colma, Rosenberg’s Department Store in Santa Rosa, and many of the first buildings constructed at the Veteran’s Home in Yountville. During World War II, the company contracted with the federal government to build a multitude of structures including hospitals, barracks, warehouses, officers’ quarters and thousands of public housing units. This flurry of experience established the company with a significant competitive edge and expertise in constructing a wide variety of building types within extremely fast-tracked schedules. It was an exciting period of dramatic growth for the company.

As the Bay Area construction industry matured during the post-war building boom, Jim Roberts reestablished the company as James E. Roberts Company and relocated the business across the bay to Oakland. During the1970’s, James E. Roberts Company completed several joint ventures with Obayashi Corporation, a 100 year-old construction company from Tokyo, Japan. Significant projects completed by the venture include the Kyoto Inn and Miyako Hotel in San Francisco’s Japantown. A series of successful collaborations led to a merger in 1978, thus formalizing the new entity of James E. Roberts-Obayashi Corporation.

In 1983, Larry Smith assumed co-ownership of the company with Obayashi Corporation. Under Larry’s leadership, the company completed such high-profile projects as the Fruitvale Transit Village in Oakland, the International Hotel project in San Francisco, Heritage Homes on the site of the demolished Geneva Towers in San Francisco and the rehabilitation of the historic Hotel Oakland following the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.