Park Plan Downsized

City of Alameda    APP has asked the Planning Board to all cost-cutting changes to both the building on Block 11 and Waterside Park, pictured here.

At a public hearing during Monday’s meeting, Alameda Point Partners (APP) asked the Planning Board to allow changes that would scale back both the building on Block 11 on Seaplane Lagoon and the adjacent Waterfront Plaza. 

Among the changes APP wishes for the building are a reduction in the footprint from 453,422 to 377,381 square feet, reduction in the average unit size in from 1,100 to approximately 930 square feet and changes in the distribution of unit sizes, an increasing the one-bedroom units from 61 to 127, decreasing the two-bedroom units from 113 to 73 and the number of three-bedroom units from 40 to 20 units. APP also hopes to eliminate the six townhomes it planned to build on the ground floor facing Pan Am Way and reduce the size of the building’s retail area from 21,947 square feet to 15,449 square feet. APP also told the Planning Board that redesigning the building’s storm-water system from the mechanical to a gravitational-flow system would reduce costs.  

In its report to the Planning Board, city staff voiced their support of the proposed changes to Building 11. “Housing construction costs in the Bay Area are some of the highest in the nation and are growing, staff stated in their report. “In response, unit sizes are shrinking across the Bay Area and in Alameda and many in the region are advocating for smaller units as a key strategy to address the need for more housing and more affordable housing.

APP also asked the board to allow changes to the adjacent Waterfront Park. These changes involve altering already approved plans to public property, rather than to private property, as was the case with Building 11. One change will be done with both staff and Recreation and Parks Department support: replacing the planned-for palm trees with Purple Robe Locust shade trees.  “Increasing the amount of shade by switching out palms to shade trees reduces the urban heat island effect.  The shade trees are appropriate at this location particularly because it covers the picnic area,” staff stated in their report.

However replacing the more expensive salvaged-wood deck with a wood-stamped deck  and revising the amount and types of seating in the park met some opposition. “This Waterfront Park is a promised and prominent public amenity that should not suffer changes because the developer’s construction costs are rising,” Richard Bangert wrote in his blog “Alameda Point Environmental Report.”

“The city has been very accommodating over the past few years in approving a number of changes to the development agreement requested by the developer,” Bangert stated. He cited delayed Sports Complex funding, modified construction milestone requirements and modified construction phasing as examples. “This one should be rejected.”

No decision was reached at Monday’s meeting.