Although Alameda lost its bid to become the future site of the new Lawrence Berkeley Lab, city staff is wasting no time in moving forward with Alameda Point planning.
At a special joint meeting of the city council and the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA) on Feb. 7, staff will present concrete ideas on moving forward at Alameda Point. It includes a zoning ordinance and general plan amendment aimed at clearly establishing the guidelines for future development. According to the staff report, “Such clarity will reduce entitlement risk and delay in any future development efforts. Clear policies will help Alameda avoid ‘starting from scratch’ with, or ceding too much control over the direction of future development to, a new private partner.”
The presentation is called “Proposed Disposition and Development Strategy for Alameda Point.” It advocates dividing the mixed-use area into three parts: Southern Area, Adaptive Reuse Area, and Northern Area. Each area has a different focus and would be developed concurrently.
The Southern Area is bordered by the Seaplane Lagoon on the west, the East Gate entrance on the north, Main Street on the east, and Inner Harbor on the south. It includes the 46-acre parcel that was offered to the Berkeley Lab and will emphasize commercial development. Staff is recommending they proceed with infrastructure engineering, strategies for dealing with earthquakes and sea level rise, marketing materials, and community buy-in on the commercial focus of this area.
In the Adaptive Reuse Area, which includes the aircraft hangars, barracks, and City Hall West, the city proposes to maintain the existing leasing program while actively marketing key buildings. The largest of those buildings is Building 5 with almost one million square feet. It’s also known by its former name, the NARF (Naval Air Rework Facility) Building. It is right across the street from the Rock Wall Winery. In 2010, the U.S. EPA drafted some ideas on possible uses for the building.
It is the Northern Area that will receive the most intense effort in the beginning, even while the city is concurrently working on the other two areas. This is primarily because it is the cleanest and offers the best opportunity for beginning a new chapter at Alameda Point, mainly with a new residential neighborhood. If approved by the city council, planning will begin on everything from demolition and grading plans to a streetscape plan and subdivision maps. They want to take it all the way to a completed environmental impact report (EIR), after which the city can then offer the land for sale.
Proposed Disposition and Development Strategy
In the staff’s proposed disposition and development strategy, they offer four options on how to proceed and the pros and cons of each. Their evaluations cover variations on how the land becomes entitled. Entitled refers to the pre-construction process and requirements of obtaining the permitting, getting the land-use approved, utility easements approved, etc.
City staff’s preferred option is that the city itself, and not a master developer, entitle the land because it will result in enhanced land value to the city and more control over development and the final outcome. They are asking for authority to hire a “development advisor” to perform the entitlement work.
In addition to Tuesday’s meeting, the staff will also make a presentation at the February 13 planning board meeting and a March 7 city council meeting.
Meeting time and place for all meetings: 7 PM, City Council Chambers, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.
Tuesday, February 7 – City Council meeting
Monday, February 13 – Planning Board meeting
Wednesday, March 7 – City Council meeting
Broadcast on Comcast channel 15 and AT&T channel 99, and on the city’s webcast center.