Council Gives Final Nod to Start Site A

Amy Chu Mayor Trish Spencer stands along Seaplane Lagoon. The lagoon will become a centerpiece of Alameda Point as the Waterfront Town Center. The developer has pledged $10 million to build a ferry terminal on the shores of the lagoon.

After 18 years, construction can begin at former base

At its July 7 meeting the City Council, by a vote of 5 to 0, passed the ordinance that will allow Alameda Point Partners, LLC, to proceed with developing Site A. The ordinance takes effect on Aug. 6.

Alameda Point Partners — comprised of srmERNST Development Partners, Madison Marquette and Thompson Dorfman Partners — should begin work on the project next July making infrastructure improvements. Work on the development will take 14 years, with completion scheduled for 2030.

The United States Department of the Navy decommissioned Alameda Naval Air Station in 1993. In 1996, the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA) adopted a reuse plan for the air station, which the Navy closed the following year.

The shuttered air station languished after a series of failed development attempts. Finally, in 2012, the Navy assigned ARRA’s rights, assets, contracts and responsibilities to the city of Alameda and transferred approximately 509 acres of terra firma and 870 acres of submerged land to the city.

Site A comprises 68 of those 509 acres. In July 2014, the city adopted a plan for Alameda Point that included a Waterfront Town Center at Site A. The city signed an exclusive agreement with Alameda Point Partners to develop the 68 acres that make up Site A.

The property stretches from the Naval Air Station’s former East Gate at Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway and Main Street along West Atlantic Avenue inside the old air station to Seaplane Lagoon. The site centers on Seaplane Lagoon and is bounded by West Tower Avenue on the north, Main Street on the east and Pan Am Way on the west. The development includes 800 residential units, 15 acres of parks and open area, commercial space and a ferry terminal.

Establishing Site A will provide work and opportunity at Alameda Point. The Building Trades of Alameda County implemented a project labor agreement with the city. Its members will perform approximately $400 million in construction work. This will create around 2,570 full-time construction jobs over the span of the project. In addition, Site A will provide employment with commercial space. Alamedans will be able to secure jobs at hotels, specialty manufacturing and retail shops. The project is expected to create 1,472 permanent positions. These combined with the construction jobs should replace more than 20 percent of the 18,000 jobs lost when the Navy left 18 years ago.

Adding life to Alameda Point will be roughly 800 residential units, 200 of which are meant for very low, low and moderate income households. According to the General Plan housing element, this complies with the affordable housing needs of the city.

Once completed the development at Site A will increase real property tax revenues more than 15 percent, bringing in an estimated $6.9 million annually.

Renovating Site A will rid Alameda Point of aged and decaying buildings and replace them with high-quality structures and facilities. This includes a $2.5 million commitment to rehabilitate and lease the 100,000-square-foot Building 117 for light industrial and manufacturing uses. Plans also call for a ferry terminal. Alameda Point Partners has pledged $10 million toward the terminal, which still must undergo a Water Emergency Transportation Authority inspection.

Joe Ernst of srmERNST expressed how the project has been a community-driven process. "We heard from residents, business owners, regional planners and decision makers who’ve worked for decades to get something started at the Base," he stated in a press release that announced City Council’s final approval.

"We look forward to our ongoing work with the city and the community to build a real legacy project for Alameda," Ernst stated.

Amy Chu is in the Girls Inc. Eureka! Program as an Alameda Sun intern. She can be reached at editor@alamedasun.com.