Contra Costa Times
June 17, 2015
A $500 million project that calls for transforming 68 acres of waterfront property at Alameda Point with 800 homes and 600,000 square feet of commercial space won unanimous approval from the City Council on Tuesday.
The mixed-use project at the former U.S. Navy base will also feature 15 acres of parks, as well as possibly a new ferry terminal. It is expected to generate 2,570 construction jobs and 1,472 permanent jobs.
The homes will be a mix of flats, condominiums and townhouses. Each will be within a five-minute walk of the ferry terminal and within a two-minute walk of shops and shuttles that will offer service to downtown Oakland and BART, according to Alameda Point Partners, the developer team.
Led by Joe Ernst of SRMErnst, which specializes in light industrial projects, the team also includes Madison Marquette and Thompson Dorfman Partners.
“I care deeply about this community,” said Ernst, a 14-year resident of Alameda. “I am very sensitive as to what the community wants, what the community needs.”
About 530 housing units will be rentals and 200 will be designated affordable.
More than 50 people signed up to speak during Tuesday’s meeting, all-but-one touting the project’s benefits and noting that other redevelopment efforts have failed since the Navy base closed in 1997.
“It will jumpstart sorely-needed infrastructure,” former Mayor Marie Gilmore said. “We are talking sewers. We are talking water. We are talking telecom.”
Gilmore added: “It will attract other businesses to Alameda Point because there will be a ‘there’ there.”
Beverly Johnson and Bill Withrow, both former mayors, also called on the council to back the project, as did Michael McDonough, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
“We feel this development will go a long way toward providing much-needed housing in Alameda,” said Tony Berg, president of the Alameda Association of Realtors.
Mayor Trish Spencer said she was concerned that many residents of Alameda, where the median household income is about $75,000, would be priced out of most of the housing units.
“We have real needs,” Spencer said. “We have real people who are being pushed out of this town who cannot afford to live here.”
But Spencer also said she looked forward to working with the developer as the project goes forward.
Called Site A by city officials, the area set for redevelopment is centered around what’s called the Seaplane Lagoon and is bordered by Pan Am Way, West Tower Avenue and Main Street.
The project will upgrade the area’s aging infrastructure, including providing a new sewer line that will run from Main Street through the redevelopment site to an existing pump station on the northern edge of Alameda Point, said Jennifer Ott, the city’s chief operating officer for the site.
The plans also call for extending Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway so that it will offer a direct route from the Webster Street Business District to the waterfront and future ferry terminal.
“It creates a gateway that allows us to have an attractive entry to Alameda Point,” Ott said.
The $10 million ferry terminal, which still must be approved by the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, would not replace Alameda’s Main Street terminal or the terminal on Bay Farm Island.
Future residents, property owners and employers will be required to pay into a traffic program to fund and manage transit services, which will be aimed at reducing congestion at the Webster and Posey tubes during peak commute hours.
Alameda Point consists of 587 developable acres. City officials have capped potential housing at the site at 1,425 units.