Marina Updates on Drawing Board

Marina Updates on Drawing Board

There has been recent interest about what’s going on at Alameda Marina. As one of the owners of the property, I invite you to join the discussion about plans to revitalize the underutilized and degrading marina, provide greater public access to the waterfront, and ultimately create an engaged and accessible waterfront for all Alamedans.

Since 1950, Alameda Marina has served primarily as an industrial boating and marine craft maintenance and storage facility. Located along Alameda’s Northern Waterfront between Clement Avenue and the Oakland Estuary, the 43-acre property, consisting of 26 acres of uplands and 17 acres of water, currently houses dry storage for boats and recreational vehicles, 533 berths, as well as some light-industrial and professional service-oriented small businesses.

Today the marina is showing its age — some rotting piers, sections of deteriorating shoreline, a vast network of aging utilities — and is desperately in need of restoration and repair. We are working on a strategy for preserving the marina, while making it available to all Alamedans. 

Mixed-use redevelopment of Alameda Marina, including residential, commercial-retail and light-industrial uses, has been a public policy objective of city and regional planning agencies for years. In fact, after an extensive public process, the city included Alameda Marina as one of 11 properties for re-zoning in its 2014 housing element update to help meet the city’s housing needs as required by state law. 

I became part owner in Pacific Shops, Inc. (PSI) in 2006, joining the Svendsen family in purchasing the property from John Bentzen, with the express intention from day one to re-develop it with a mix of waterfront uses. From 2007 until 2012, PSI participated in untold meetings with the city of Alameda to execute a new tidelands lease for the portion of the marina owned by the state, but managed by the city. 

On behalf of PSI, Svend and Sean Svendsen signed a new tidelands lease with the city in May 2012, requiring a master plan for “demolition and/or replacement and/or comprehensive rehabilitation of existing improvements on the property, and for construction of a new, higher-value project.”

Today, the view of Alameda Marina from Clement Avenue is a 1,500 lineal foot stretch of imposing wall with no invitation to enjoy the waterfront. Currently there are no public amenities, like walking paths, landscaping, or opportunities to get down on the water along the breadth of the marina. 

Our agreement with the city includes conditions to make an initial $10 million investment, including a mixed-use commercial and residential project, by 2020. This investment includes improvements to the shoreline, new public access to the waterfront and other public amenities for the entire community of Alameda. 

The lease extension and financial investment cannot be sustained under the current marina and boatyard business model. Working within the current zoning for the property, a mixed-use development project is the only financially viable plan to restore and redevelop the property.

While we do not yet have a project plan, we fully intend to run and maintain a healthy and vibrant working marina funded through a new, mixed-use development that serves the greater community. We know that to retain some existing businesses at the marina and attract new business, we must provide amenities, services and a variety of housing types.

We have committed to work with our tenants to determine those businesses that are a fit with future plans, including some maritime uses and others who may need help with re-location. Similarly, we will work with the boatyard and its users who are largely from outside Alameda, to find alternatives for boat and RV storage and maintenance needs that may or may not fit with the intended mixed-use of the future property. 

Importantly, we will maintain the operating 17-acre marina and boat slips.

As we explore opportunities to activate Alameda Marina, our first step was talking with our tenants and neighbors about what is desired at the property. This is an ongoing collaborative process that ultimately will lead to a project application to the city of Alameda, kicking off an environmental review. 

We encourage you to visit our website at for more information and to sign-up for updates. We welcome your feedback as we continue the dialog about plans for reinvesting in Alameda Marina.

Bill Poland is chairman and a shareholder of Pacific Shops, Inc., which owns Alameda Marina.