Public consensus on Alameda Point? Sort of.
Participants in a host of meetings and workshops on the fate of Alameda Point agree on many of the basic principles for developing the Point. But the devil, as they say, is in the details.
Residents, Point tenants and members of several boards and commissions have said they’d like to see a mixed use development; what they don’t agree on is how much housing it should contain, or how tall the buildings can be. They want adaptive reuse of buildings, parks and open space; but it’s not clear how much of each anyone’s preferred plan can ultimately pay for.
City staffers are set to offer a summary of the feedback they’ve gathered on the future of Alameda Point to the City Council, which will be sitting as the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority tonight. Working with a team of consultants, they plan to assemble a range of development alternatives that they hope to present to elected leaders in the fall.
They will work to ascertain the community’s priorities for revitalizing the Point – and to ensure that the city can pay for what the community wants.
At this point, staffers say the alternatives will include everything from an adaptive reuse strategy that would leave the Point as-is and reuse its existing buildings to a plan based on the preliminary development concept for the Point with around 2,000 single family homes and duplexes and a “regional strategy” offering up to 5,000 new homes.
City staffers have already held three community meetings, talked with Point tenants and put the Point question before several boards and commissions, in addition to offering a planning workbook online for residents to fill out. They’re also planning workshops on transportation and environmental sustainability. (One thing there is consensus on: People are worried about traffic.)
City staffers will also reach out to developers to ensure that the plans they’re putting together can attract developers and investors willing to build them. Meanwhile, the council will have to decide whether to seek development partners for the Point or to work with the Navy to auction the property.
In addition, city staffers are set to present a market study showing that any effort to erect office buildings on the Point faces an uncertain future. It says the Point is not considered a “preferred” or “optimal” location for a large office development, and that the money to build one there isn’t available.
The commercial market assessment, which relied on interviews with commercial brokers and developers and quarterly market reports, found that vacancies are high in the East Bay while rents are declining, and that Alameda is harder hit than other East Bay cities.
Alameda Point offers land, a central location and a waterfront setting among other advantages, according to a presentation to be offered to the council tonight. But it also may seem remote to those who don’t want to cross the estuary to get here, and would-be developers may have a hard time getting financing since they don’t know who will ultimately own the land, the presentation says.
Large-scale institutional users like Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is seeking a spot for a second campus; nontraditional users; and developers seeking a “build to suit” opportunity on a smaller plot should be the focus of any economic development strategy at the Point, the presentation says.