Matarrese: ‘We can control our own destiny’
City Councilman Frank Matarrese said the city should set up its own nonprofit development corporation to handle the redevelopment of Alameda Point, and he plans to ask his dais-mates at a council meeting next Tuesday whether they’ll agree to explore the idea.
Matarrese, who offered the idea on his campaign blog Wednesday and at a town hall meeting Thursday night that was attended by about 50 people, said he’d like to foster a commercial base at the Naval Air Station, which he said was the original base closure mandate, and push housing into other areas of the Island where it would be closer to other off-Island access points and transit.
He said new leasing guidelines for the Point that could be a starting point for commercial development will be presented Tuesday night.
“If we don’t do this now we are going to kind of wallow around, and it’ll be another 15 to 20 years before anything is done,” Matarrese said Thursday.
In a separate interview for another story, Vice Mayor Doug deHaan said he too thought setting up a city-sponsored nonprofit to handle the base redevelopment would be the way forward for the Point.
Matarrese said the proposal to set up a nonprofit corporation to develop the base could be similar to one set up by the Irvine City Council in 2003 to redevelop the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, which Matarrese and Mayor Beverly Johnson visited in November 2009, after they withdrew their support for SunCal’s Measure B.
In that case, the Navy auctioned the 4,682-acre base off to the highest bidder – a consortium led by Lennar Corp. – and the city got to keep 1,300 acres to develop into a park.
Matarrese also said he’d like to build on existing industries at Alameda Point, including environmental remediation, marine businesses and specialty food and beverage, in order to start building revenue to pay for redevelopment at the Point. And he said he thought the city could do the job more cheaply because it doesn’t have the same profit demand as SunCal or another private company.
He said he thought the city could manage the development, selling parcels to other small developers to build on in order to pay to replace roads, water pipes and other infrastructure there.
Matarrese said that he’d ask the experts to tell him how much housing might be built at Alameda Point, though he wants to push housing out to other areas of the Island. For example, he said the city could seek to build waterfront condominiums near the existing Main Street ferry terminal, or city officials could ask the United States Marine Corps to move their training center from its existing Clement Avenue location out onto the base so that new housing could be built there.
“It may or may not work. But we can ask the question now,” Matarrese said. “We can control our own destiny.”
Participants in Thursday’s town hall asked Matarrese questions about how a city-sponsored nonprofit would pay for development at the Point and what kind of housing might still be built there. They also asked what impact an anticipated lawsuit from SunCal might have on the city’s future progress at the Point.
Matarrese said he’s optimistic the city would still be able to move forward in the face of a suit.
“We negotiated in good faith. They didn’t. The agreement is terminated now,” he said.