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Encinal Terminals owner requests six more years of industrial use

Submitted by on 1, July 13, 2009 – 5:50 am3 Comments

Image from www.dougdehaanalameda.com

The owner of a onetime shipping terminal across the street from Littlejohn Park is asking the city for six more years of industrial uses there because he says the economy is too harsh to allow his development plans for the site to proceed.

City staff is suggesting the Planning Board deny the request, and they’re asking the board to rezone the property to fit the development proposal, which is part of the city’s efforts to revamp its northern waterfront. The board is set to discuss the requests at its meeting tonight.

Peter Wang, who owns the site, had offered a proposal in 2007 to develop homes, a hotel and more on the 24-acre site, plus a massive marketplace at the Del Monte Building, which borders it. He is now asking the city to extend his current use permit, which expires in September, so he can continue to take in money to rehab the Del Monte Building, which sits at the corner of Sherman and Buena Vista.

Wang wants six more years to continue industrial uses at the site, which is currently being used by a company that sells shipping and cargo containers, because he thinks it’ll be that long before the economy turns around.The permit allowing industrial uses at the site was approved in 1994.

Meanwhile, the company – ConGlobal Industries – is asking for 10 more months to conduct limited operations at the site, to help ease their transition to a new home in Oakland. (According to the city’s staff report on this one, they just learned that their lease expires 10 months after the city permit that allows them to conduct their business there.)

“As (with) many businesses struggling in difficult times, Encinal must work harder than ever just to keep business afloat by keeping the existing business uses in order to survive and be ready for the future,” Wang wrote in a June 19 letter to the city. “Despite everyone’s best efforts, the current economic challenges and a general lack of financing makes it impossible to move forward with the development project at this time.”

Wang said that if the cuty doesn’t grant his request, it’ll be impossible to move forward with efforts to rehab the Del Monte Building.

But city planning staff say they’ve waited long enough to transform the site, which sits astride the newly developed Marina Cove housing tract and the Wind River campus. And they want the board to rezone the land from industrial to mixed use so that development plans can move forward.

Some nearby residents, who complained about truck traffic and trash at the site, also said they’d like to see development plans move forward there.

“The property owner has had 15 years to do something creative with the property but instead he has turned his back on the neighborhood not giving a hoot about its public face,” Suzan Kaplan, a neighbor of the property, wrote the city (scroll down to view). “As long as he can put as little as possible into it and reap maximum benefit out of it, he is not motivated to bring his plans to fruition.”

The board meets at 7 p.m. today in the council chambers at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. The meeting is also set to be broadcast on public access channel 15.


  • Jon Spangler says:

    If the City says no to extending the industrial use permit and Peter Wang does not have (or cannot raise) the money to develop the Del Monte building in the foreseeable future, then what happens? Is an empty abandoned building better than one that is being used for industrial purposes?

    Six years may be a bit longer than necessary, but I would hate to be forced into trying to raise capital for a redevelopment project right now…

  • DL Morrison says:

    Why does everything have to be redeveloped? I can't think of any other similiarly situated city that has anything like the level of redevelopment that's proposed here, and people are almost blase about it — there's one project after another, and the sum total of the impacts are probably unsupportable, even w/ a scaled down project at Alameda Point. With Alameda Point as planned, it's a disaster.

    The Del Monte building is a nice looking old place, but I don't see how it can be made safe, even w/ extensive retrofitting. It looks about ready to keel over right now, and to make matters worse, it must be on fill. That whole site must be on fill, as it doesn't even exist on the 1888 "birds eye map" of Alameda — plus the elevation and so on. Once again, a terrible place to build anything. It would help to remember that in the 1906 quake, the San Andreas fault moved something like 6 feet — the 1868 quake on the Hayward Fault was also measured in feet. This isn't news to anybody. The inner East Bay is a terrible place to concentrate population, especially in the older cities w/ the oldest infrastructure and buildings.

    So far as saving the planet is concerned — who's going to save all these people when the big one hits?

  • DL Morrison says:

    A PS: I wonder how many people support these redevelopment projects strictly on the merits? Obviously some people must, but the most vocal proponents tend to be people who support high density development as a necessary goal (and doctrine), then set out to advocate for — or rationalize — virtually any development that comes along. Some opponents of these projects may also oppose development under all circumstances, but to be fair, I don't think anyone in opposition is doctrinally opposed to housing per se.

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