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Progress promised on Landing plan

Submitted by on 1, February 16, 2011 – 12:03 am6 Comments

Managers with Catellus promised City Council members quick movement forward on the developer’s long-stalled Alameda Landing development, which the council agreed to turn over to the developer’s new owners on Tuesday night. They said they could break ground on the project as soon as the end of this year.

“We’ve spent close to $20 million on this project. We plan to implement it,” Catellus’s managing director, Tom Marshall, said.

Council members ultimately offered unanimous approval of the transfer of Catellus’s development rights to the developer’s new owners, TPG Capital. But they said they’re concerned about the company’s ability to deliver the project, the first phase of which is due by 2012.

“I hope you’re getting the sense that the community wants this project. I’m excited about it. What many of us are saying is that nothing is going to speak louder than action, and seeing some significant action there, soon,” Vice Mayor Rob Bonta said.

Marshall said the company’s new owners are ready to pump cash into the Alameda Landing project to move it forward and that it will get more attention than it did when Catellus was owned by warehousing giant ProLogis.

“We’re reintroducing the Catellus brand. Catellus is back, and it will be on us to execute these projects well,” Marshall said.

Catellus Vice President Sean Whiskeman said the company met with city staff in January to show them some preliminary development plans and that they plan to work with staff through the spring to refine their Landing plan. He said the company is hoping to be before the Planning Board with a plan this summer and back to the council in the fall, and the developer wants to break ground on the project in late 2011 or early 2012.

The company has entitlements to build up to 400,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail, 20,000 square feet of health club space and 300 homes.

The company’s first phase of development would involve preparing 10 acres of the 97-acre site for sale to Target, which has said it intends to build a 140,000-square-foot store there that would be open for business by 2013. But council members said they’re looking for more proof that will happen as Catellus helps Target erect new stores in nearby Emeryville and Fremont.

“It is a concern that Target is opening sites in close proximity to us,” City Councilwoman Beverly Johnson said. “When are they going to reach that point of market saturation?”

Johnson and Councilman Doug deHaan pressed the developer for more details on changes they hope to make to the development agreements they have with the city. Marshall didn’t offer specifics, though he said the changes would be technical in nature.

Council members also asked the developer if they plan to reimburse the city for $3 million city officials spent to build the Wilver “Willie” Stargell extension, which was considered a critical component of moving the development forward, and also the $2 million the city spent to demolish an administrative building on the property that was destroyed in a 2009 fire.

Deputy City Manager Jennifer Ott and Marshall said they’d discuss the city’s costs and others incurred by Catellus.

One other concern: The project’s financials included $18 million in redevelopment funding for backbone infrastructure on the site, money which may not be available if Governor Jerry Brown succeeds in his quest to eliminate redevelopment in California.

“It’s not an insurmountable loss, but it’s just another thing we would have to overcome,” Marshall said.

Catellus signed on with the city in 1998 to develop the Navy’s former Fleet Industrial Supply Center property, and they partnered with Warmington Homes to develop the Bayport housing project. The developer inked an agreement with the city in 2006 to build the Alameda Landing project, but the development never got off the ground.

Catellus had hoped to bring Clif Bar to the site, but delays in moving the project forward that included the discovery that a wharf they planned to build near was unstable led the company to ultimately relocate elsewhere.

ProLogis bought Catellus five years ago, but the company’s fortunes slide with the rest of the economy. ProLogis announced in December that they planned to sell Catellus’s assets to TPG for $505 million, a sale that Marshall said should close at the end of this month.

As part of the sale, TPG, which manages $48 billion in assets, would pick up four shopping centers, two office buildings, 11 mixed-use development projects, two residential development ventures and a number of ground leases, Marshall said. The managers who have handled the Landing development are leaving ProLogis and would continue with the project, he said.

In other council news, the council opted to hold off on plans to raise parking ticket fines, saying they wanted to see rates predicated on the severity of the offense instead of uniformly applied to parking offenses. City staff had asked that fines for nearly two dozen offenses be set at $50, up from $30 to $35 for most of the offenses. The council did move forward with charge a late fee on unpaid tickets of 35 percent of the fine.

The council also opted to create three advisory panels to interview candidates seeking to become Alameda’s next city manager. They’ll select community stakeholders to form one panel to interview finalists for the job, with department heads and the city’s unions manning the other two.

Council members are set to interview six candidates for the job on Saturday, and they’re hopeful to have two or three finalists at the end of those interviews. The panels would interview those finalists and offer their thoughts to the council for them to consider before making a selection.


  • Karen Bey says:

    I for one think its exciting news that the Catellus brand is back; Catellus was a great company before it sold to Prologis.

    In light of the many opportunities we have due to the America’s Cup event – and the value Lawrence Berkeley Lab will bring to surrounding developments should Alameda be selected, it’s time for this project to move forward. But while many in Alameda want Catellus to focus on Target; I think the true value of this site is its waterfront location.

    It’s time for Alameda Landing to move out of their “non-core assets” column to one of their most “valuable core assets” column. If not, Catellus will probably see some major competition from Jamestown Properties who recently purchased Alameda Towne Centre for $181m. The price that was paid for Alameda Towne Centre, plus the fact that Harsh Investment received 20 offers for this property, shows the demand for waterfront retail properties and proves that one of Alameda’s greatest assets is our waterfront properties. I’m glad to see a retail developer that recognizes the unique assets we have here in Alameda. Here’s what Jamestown has to say about their recent purchase of Alameda Town Centre:

    The new owners also hope to parlay the site´s historic prominence as the Neptune Beach Amusement Park in the1920s and 1930s.
    “We have big plans for this iconic asset and are uniquely suited to incorporate the story of Alameda Island in redeveloping the property,” said Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown Realty Co.

    The company has plenty of experience in handling high-profile assets. Its properties have included:
    • One Times Square in New York City, home to the New Year´s Eve ball drop.
    • Chelsea Market, a historic biscuit factory in New York City that was redeveloped as a mixed-use gourmet
    market and office building.
    • Pacific Place, a mixed-used complex near Union Square in San Francisco.
    “Alameda Towne Square is a core asset,” Voorhees said. “It´s the type of project you want to own.”

    Catellus – all eyes are watching, and I’m hopeful that we see an exciting waterfront project at Alameda Landing!

    • nancy vi says:

      do you work for catellus, by any chance. the LAST thing alameda needs is more development. but i left the island in december because it lost its unique quaintness. what a shame! the express has an article right now about the tripod in charge of its govt. make sure you read that revealing piece next!

      • ryan says:

        “the LAST thing alameda needs is more development”… this is pretty funny to me. Alameda is in a prime spot to become a world class destination, all that is needed is some innovation. The Alameda Point area is an absolute joke. It’s like an abandoned city on the best piece of land in the country. The OLD can co-exist with the NEW. It’s a much better option then OLD co-existing with ABANDONED… Don’t worry, Ole’s Waffle Shop isn’t going anywhere.

  • Scott says:

    Well said Ryan could not agree more. Nancy the days of alameda looking like San leandro are over. There is a positive development and clean up spreading like a wild fire across the island. We are just seeing a taste of what’s to come on Webster street. Please try and embrace the positive changes but if you can not stand to see alameda change for the better San leandro is a short drive down 880 south.

  • Tony Daysog says:

    This project will be good for all of Alameda. Let’s support it!

  • Karen Bey says:

    Tony, I do support a retail project at the Landing. But I have some legitimate concerns after hearing Borders Store and Nine West Store closing at Alameda Town Centre.

    While some folks don’t like to hear it — Alameda Towne Centre is a discount shopping center anchored by discount stores: TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, & Ross, Dress Barn, Payless Shoes are all discount stores. And here we go again creating a second discount shopping center in Alameda anchored by – Target. My question is: Why do we need two discount shopping centers — especially when the first center can’t fill up and is experiencing store closures?

    If we get LBL, the demographics will change in Alameda – and we would have taken another waterfront site, great location with close proximity to SF (by ferry), and with much of the backbone infrastructure already in place, and turned it into another discount shopping center. I don’t believe the highest and best use for this site is another discount shopping center. I think Jamestown Properties has a much better vision for Alameda.

    We need to think real careful about this; I’m concerned that once we anchor the center with a 140,000 sq ft Target super center – we’ve laid the groundwork for another discount center or worse a power center much like what we see at Pacific Commons in Fremont.

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