Boatworks Project Revision Approved

City of Alameda Work on the “Boatworks Green” development along the Oakland Estuary at Clement Avenue and Oak Street is scheduled to begin next February. It includes open space pictured here.

 

At its Monday, July 25, meeting the Planning Board gave property owner Francis Collins and his architect Phillip Banta something they have been hoping for: approval to proceed with their development and open-space plans to make Boatworks a reality. Banta and his company BantaDesigns presented the board with “Boatworks Green” a development at Clement Avenue and Oak Street. 

In their presentation Banta and his company described how the project’s new single-family and multi-family residential community commands easy access to “mainland” assets. They showed the board plans for 182 residential units built on 9.48 acres. They pointed to the project’s open space that includes both a community green and a concrete pier on the Oakland Estuary. According to the plans, the open space pier would include an accessibility ramp and steps leading to seating areas and a viewing and fishing deck.   

The plans also include “paseos”: lanes only open to pedestrians and bicycles that lead from Clement Avenue to the estuary. If all goes as planned, the first of four phases of construction should begin next February.

During the first year of construction, Banta presented plans to lay out and landscape most of the project’s open spaces, including the waterfront, the community green and the paseos, as well as the 30-unit apartment building for the project’s affordable housing. The developer stressed that the starting date for the project depends on the city approving the plan and issuing the permits by the end of 2016. Collins and Banta told the Planning Board they plan to have the project completely finished by February 2021. The Boatworks decision had one downside for the developer. Collins will have to come up with a new tentative map. The Planning Board approved the first map in 2011. When Collins and Banta asked the board to grant them an extension on that map — board members turned them down unanimously.

The property where “Boatworks Green” will rise up has undergone quite a transformation. Dow Pumping Engine Company began doing business on the site in 1909. In 1932 a portion of the property 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, The last tenant departed in 2002, and the property lay abandoned for 11 years.

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, the Coast Guard and the State Lands Commission.

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.

The property had sat vacant since Collins cleared the land. Now it appears he and his architect will finally be able to move forward with their plans — after they present a new tentative map. 

In other action, the Planning Board approved Site A’s design review application. The design in question involves surface materials, street trees, as well as street lights for Site A and the rest of Alameda Point. The board gave Park Esquina a unanimous nod to proceed with its project at Park Street and Blanding Avenue. 

Board members also approved Kevin Lam’s plan for a 7,100-square-foot building on the West End near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Webster Street. The Alameda Sun covered Park Esquina and Lam’s project in last week’s edition (“Infill Projects Move Ahead,” July 21).