Consultants offer new plan for Del Monte
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Consultants hired by the city to come up with fresh plans for the Del Monte building, Encinal Terminals and Chipman Warehouse properties on Monday night offered Alameda’s Planning Board a preliminary vision that included a mix of homes, modular live-work space and other, to-be-determined uses. More specific plans for the sites could become available in the spring of 2011.
“We’ve been working on the project for so long,” said Peter Wang, who owns the properties. “What we would like to see is how the property can be re-used.”
Planning efforts for developing the sites date back to 2001, and proposals for developing them have included a marketplace, a hotel, an assisted living facility and homes.
Barry Long of Urban Design Associates, the firm the city hired to work with Wang and his business partners to rethink the site, said he envisions modular live-work spaces inside the Del Monte Warehouse at the corner of Buena Vista and Sherman.
It’s basically putting little shells inside that building,” Long said of the Del Monte, which he said was “a unique challenge” that had already been taken up by some of the best architects in the country. “It could be anything from home office to workshop to studio, very eclectic and open to the owner’s interpretation.”
Chipman Warehouse could be razed and replaced by homes, duplexes and townhomes, something Long said would integrate with the newly built Marina Cove development. And Long said he would take a “flexible, incremental, organic” approach to redeveloping the Encinal Terminals, which has few structures left standing on it. He said that site could host commercial or education development and marine-related development required by the Tidelands leases that govern some of the property.
Long said the Encinal Terminals property already has a park in its northeast corner and that he’d seek to create a continuous, linear park along the edge of the property to offer waterfront access.
He compared the development concepts to Granville Island in Vancouver, which offers a public market, retail outlets, arts, entertainment and more.
Members of the Planning Board and the public said they were excited by the plans.
“I really like what I see here,” said Nancy Hird of the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society, who said she had long ago met with Wang in the hopes the Del Monte could be saved.
But other members of the board expressed frustration that the project and others across the Island are proceeding at such a slow pace.
“We’ve got all of these great plans, but nothing ever happens,” Planning Board member Art Autorino said. “How do we push this along?”
Autorino said the entire Island is prime development area and that he couldn’t understand why developers aren’t more eager to come here.
“We don’t have the density here to make it work. That’s the long and short,” Planning Board member Patrick Lynch said. “To make something financially fit in the real world – you need to have people there to do that.”
Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas said the city needs to be in a position to move development proposals along more quickly, instead of tying would-be builders up in a lengthy, expensive planning process. Still, he said he thinks this project is on the right track to move forward. Thomas said redevelopment of the Chipman Warehouse site is “ready to go now.”
The City Council is slated to hear about the plans next, though a date was not specified Monday. Planning Board members said they’d like to get an update on the process in February or March of 2011.
Citing the poor economy, Wang had asked the city in July 2009 for the right to continue industrial uses of the site for six more years. City officials hired Urban Design Associates in September 2009.
The site was being used by a company that sells shipping and cargo containers, but the company has since moved to Oakland.