Boatworks Plan Before State Board

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

Francis Collins’ Boatworks plans, dated December 2014, went before the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission this week. The plan is to create 182 new homes, scaled back from the 240 proposed in the project’s original plan. As part of the project, the Bay Trail will be extended along the estuary creating an open space for the public to use.

Property along Estuary to feature 182 new homes

The plans for Francis Collins’ Boatworks development — bounded by Clement Avenue, Oak and Elm streets and the Oakland Estuary — went before the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (BCDC) design review board on Tuesday. This state commission has a say on any changes made within 100 feet of any of California’s shorelines.

Collins plans for the 9.48-acre parcel includes 182 two- three- and four-bedroom homes, including 19 classified as "affordable." (A 2010 agreement Collins has with the city called for 42 affordable housing units.) Collins has scaled back his plans from the 240 homes that he was hoping to build on the site. In July 2011 the Planning Board said "no" and the city finally approved plans for 182 dwellings.

Collins’ plans also call for 1.32-acres of open space along the Oakland Estuary. This includes not only a 600-foot portion of the Bay Trail, but a tot lot, picnic tables,
barbeque pits, four parking spaces and an entry plaza as well. Proposed public access improvements along the shoreline would include a split-level pier.

This open space is part of the 100 feet of shoreline that interests BCDC. In 2010 the city abandoned plans to build "Estuary Park" on parts of Collins’ property.

The property has undergone quite a transformation. Dow Pumping Engine Company began doing business on the site in 1909. In 1932 a portion of the site was leased to the Van Neil Brass Casting Company, which operated a foundry.

In 1941, the Pacific Coast Engineering Company (PACECO) moved from Oakland onto the site. The company produced dredging equipment, marine machinery, harbor tugs, ship sections, and the world’s first high-speed dockside cranes.

The company, famous for building these cranes, closed its doors in 1981. Small businesses moved onto the property, which finally closed in 2002.

In 2013 an EPA-sponsored project removed contaminated debris and dilapidated docks from the Estuary near the property. The 15 agencies involved in the multimillion dollar cleanup included BCDC, the Coast Guard and the State Lands Commission. They used
Collins’ property to stage their
operation, which included removing the tug boats Respect and Captain Al, a pair of barges and a large amount of debris from the waterway’s bottom just off Collins’ property.

Later that year, under threats from the city to do it for him, Collins began removing the abandoned, graffiti-stained buildings that once housed Dow and PACECO. In its 2010 agreement with Collins the city granted the property owner up to $4.4 million in tax concessions to clean up the property and to compensate him for the open space along the estuary.

Collins’ plans will now go before the Planning Board and the City Council. Earlier plans stated that Collins would complete construction at the site by 2017.

Contact Dennis Evanosky at editor@alamedasun.com.