Sailors Fear Losing Local Marina
Pacific Shops, Inc., the present owner of Alameda Marina is looking to the future. In 2012 the city not only renewed Pacific Shops’ lease to the marina, but gave the company an initial 25-year term, with a 41-year extension if the city approves more development and that development takes place. Pacific Shop has since hired a developer and an architect to move forward with that development. The city took the first step in that direction by rezoning the site to allow Pacific Shops to redevelop the marina.
Bay West Development has teamed up with the architectural design team at San Francisco’s EHDD. EHDD grew from a practice founded in 1946 by architect Joseph Esherick. In 1952, George Homsey joined Esherick. Peter Dodge followed in 1956 and Chuck Davis, in 1962. The firm is named for the initial letters of these four men’s last names.
According to its web site EHDD “explored development options that are pedestrian-oriented and foster use of alternative, sustainable transportation modes and practices.” EHDD’s plan calls for 10 acres of housing, 11.5 acres for industrial and maritime use and two acres for commercial use.
EHDD states on its web site that the firm is working closely with city staff, key representatives of the Planning Board, the state’s Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the local community. The firm further states that it wishes to “ensure that all stakeholders take ownership of the master planning effort.” With this in mind Bay West and EHDD invited tenants to a luncheon meeting and neighbors to a community meeting on Nov. 18 at Island Yacht Club.
Things did not go as well as the developer and architect planned. “The meetings raised the fears of those in attendance that the developer intends to completely raze the marina and fill the space with a high-density housing, retail shops and a business park,” wrote Erik Simonson on the Sailing Scuttlebutt website, www.sailingscuttlebutt.com.
According to Elisa Williams writing on the Latitude 38 website, www.latitude38.com, “Bay West described an 18-month process during which they would work with tenants to help them find new spaces or, in some cases, to extend their leases. She pointed out that tenants at the marina include Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Doyle Sailmakers, Eskelund Marine, Fasco Fasteners, Excel Graphics and Svendsen’s Boat Works.
One tenant told Williams that the developer showed photos of Svendsen’s Boat Works with some welding going on. The Bay West representative told the audience members what they were looking at “was incompatible with what the city and the developer have in mind for the property.” The tenants were told that the city’s mandate for housing and infrastructure improvements meant that the property would need to be “fully developed.”
Simonson wrote “though the presentation was meant to be a community outreach mission, it set off an alarming pulse through the sailing community on the possible fate of one of the San Francisco Bay’s most prolific institutions.”
According to the EHDD web site, the master plan for the site would “support significant development and new public waterfront open space while maintaining marina and boat repair operations as well as urban design connections to the Park Street Business District and other sites along Clement Avenue.
Simonson sees things differently. He fears that “a complete razing of the property and filling it with a mix of high-density housing, business park and small retail outlets” are in EHDD’s plans. He sees a shrunken marine facility where boaters will no longer be able to depend on Alameda Marina’s three-ton hoist and the dry storage that these boaters have come to depend on.
Simonson also foresees a loss of the synergy and energy of a vibrant community, which provides the working man access to the bay. In its stead he foresees “yet another high-density, soulless compound filled with commuters adding to the already overcrowded outlets from the Island.”
He fears the loss of the marina’s anchor tenant Svendsen’s Boat Works, which alone employs 60-plus people with quality blue-collar jobs.
“Alameda Marina is home to more than 65 businesses. It is the only marina on San Francisco Bay with a full-service boatyard, chandlery and sail lofts,” Simonson writes. The marina is also has a wet berth and RV and camper storage, along with office, warehouse and industrial space.
Simonson sees magic in the present-day marina: its one stop shopping, where riggers can find the parts they need, boat owners can do their own work on their own boats, have custom stainless steel parts made and have your made or repaired. He fears not only the loss of this sort of magic at the Alameda Marina, but a domino effect.
“Many of the larger trailer sailors would be hard pressed to find another location, and for all intents and purposes would likely sell their boats and move on,” he wrote.
He says that the loss to the local economy would extend well past the immediate borders of the marina to local satellite business on both sides of the estuary. “Both marine industry and local shops would be severely affected as the local sailors and current workers move on,” he wrote.