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A modest proposal for the Point

Submitted by on 1, September 23, 2008 – 11:45 amNo Comment

Developer SunCal has formally submitted a preliminary development plan for Alameda Point. In the 132-page plan, it makes the case for its (non-Measure A compliant) vision for a community that has a diverse array of housing, functional transit and some super neat “green” features, plus a 20-acre campus for the Google of the future, a 55-acre sports complex, parks, a new elementary school and the conversion of historical buildings into a wine, food and entertainment district.

After clearing a looooong list of regulatory and other hurdles (including a ballot measure to amend Measure A if this plan proceeds), the developer could begin demolition on the base in 2010 and construction a year later, according to plan documents. Construction could be completed by 2025.

“Alameda Point deserves a plan which respects the character and charm of Alameda while mobilizing the city’s capacity in the 21st century. Alameda Point deserves the redevelopment concept plan,” it says.

SunCal makes the case for this development on a number of different levels – historical, practical, moral, financial. The plan’s authors essentially point out that such a development is in keeping with what Alameda’s got and has always been – early on, they point out that Alameda once was the eighth largest city in California (and what a difference 100 years makes, folks!) and that it was (briefly) the Western terminus for the Transcontinental Railroad.

They say we have a history of being forward-thinking (we did transit-oriented development before there were transportation geeks to give it a label, in the form of the ferry and streetcars on Park Street) and open to business. And they are proposing a model city of sorts with state-of-the-art transit and Earth-friendly features.

On the moral front, the developer points out that California needs more housing, and specifically, more housing where jobs will be. And they point out that we should be doing everything we can to combat global warming by doing denser development with smaller houses and far better transit. (Quick note here to say that the plan lists about 4,200 homes and only briefly mentions the possibility of an earlier-discussed Plan B of about 6,000 homes that would be contingent on some pretty ambitious transit improvements.)

And then there’s the dollar question. Let’s face it, developing the Point is going to be a giant headache: enormous flood plain, tons of Bay mud, a dizzying array of toxic stuff and endangered birds, among other things. Preliminary estimates show costs of $679 million before the first foundation is ever poured, for all-new electric, water, sewer and other utilities plus relocation of existing on-site uses and other costs. Early historical preservation estimates are $186 million (and that’s before a detailed analysis of reuse opportunities for those buildings is completed). Could they finance this by building 1,800 homes? The message is, no.

Anyway, the information is all online now and you can get there with the link up top (warning: this is a huge document and could take a while to download). I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff I’m leaving out (did I mention they’re talking about a potential boardwalk, a recreational marina on Seaplane Lagoon, a Marina Green-ish green space on said lagoon?). The rest of the documents – including a more detailed plan for the sports complex – are here.

They’ll keep tweaking over the course of the next two months. A master plan is due on November 19.

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