Council Approves De-Pave Park Plan

City of Alameda -- The city approved option 3, which will remove building 25 and create an extra three acres of space for wildlife.
City of Alameda -- The city approved option 3, which will remove building 25 and create an extra three acres of space for wildlife.

Council Approves De-Pave Park Plan

At its Nov. 7 meeting, the City Council directed staff to create a plan to remove two buildings located within the defined De-Pave Park area to create a more expansive park for residents and wildlife.

De-Pave Park is located on the western edge of Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point. The 12-acre park is designed as a publicly accessible ecological park created by removing all existing concrete from a World War II-era runway at Alameda Point, re-purposing it onsite and creating significant and varied habitat to support a wide range of wildlife.

Following multiple community input sessions on the De-Pave Park design, city staff created several options for the area including removing Buildings 25 and 29. City staff stated that removing Building 29 made the most sense due to the cost to preserve the building — it would cost $5,895,000 for a new levee and utilities, according to a city staff memorandum — and its low annual lease revenue — the city anticipates the building will bring in $59,861 in lease revenue in 2023.

Building 25 has a different economic model. Building 25 would cost more to remove ($2,494,000) than to preserve ($1,150,000), according to the staff report. Also, the building, which houses seven Spirits Alley makers, is expected to bring in $428,905 in lease revenue in 2023, with the expectation that the lease revenue will increase three percent annually. It is expected to bring in $550,110 in lease revenue by 2027, if maintained as is.

However, many residents believe the park has a greater purpose and that purpose would be compromised by maintaining Building 25. Removing the two buildings will create an extra 7.4 acres of space. Many residents who spoke at the meeting envision De-Pave Park being a place that welcomes an extensive wildlife habitat.

“The wildlife habitat has been parceled out drastically,” said resident Rick Lewis at the meeting. “Wildlife corridors are really important and what are wildlife corridors. They are areas that exist in between human habitation. Those corridors are essential to residents, rare birds, endangered birds and all the wildlife here in Alameda. The more corridors we have the more healthy and vibrant the wildlife is going to be.”

The park will also impact the environment by reducing the city’s carbon footprint and block the effects of sea level rise in Alameda. According to the report, the existing park site will take more than 210 years to obtain carbon neutrality from its original construction. However, if the buildings are removed the park will minimize this impact and be carbon positive within four years from the park construction. Also, De-Pave Park has the capacity to reduce tidal flooding due to the creation and enhancement of wetlands, which protect shoreline from impeding tides and storm surges.

“If we can have a model project like this where places throughout the world, if not throughout the United States, can turn to it as an example of a city that embraced sea level rise and did so in an elegant and graceful manner as was before us, I think we as a city must not miss this opportunity to pursue De Pave Park to the fullest, which to me suggests that we will have to remove Building 25,” said Vice Mayor Tony Daysog.

Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft informed the public at the meeting that if Building 25 is removed it will not be for several years.

“It is at least five years before construction begins, and before it begins, we have to secure at least $20 million in grant funding,” said Ashcraft.

During this time the city will help the current tenants of Building 25 and 29 find permanent locations around the city.

The motion passed, 4-1, with Councilmember Trish Herrera Spencer providing the lone dissenting vote. Spencer said she was concerned about the effects the lost lease revenue would have on the city. City manager Jenner Ott said the city’s reuse strategy is to move businesses away from these older buildings.

City staff will now create a final design draft for the public to comment on in January 2024.