City to seek developers for two Alameda Point parcels
City to seek developers for two Alameda Point parcels
The city is getting ready to seek out developers who could build hundreds of homes, retail outlets, offices or hotels on 150 acres at Alameda Point.
The City Council on Tuesday signed off on the outline of a request for qualifications from prospective developers for two parcels at the Point, and the form of an exclusive negotiating agreement that city leaders hope to use to move forward on development deals.
Alameda Point Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Ott said she’s hoping to release the request for qualifications on May 1, with proposals due in six weeks. Pre-development efforts could begin in the fall of 2015, a timeline Ott presented to the council on Tuesday showed.
The city will use the documents to gauge interest in developing 800 or more homes, retail, hotel and office space on a 68-acre parcel in the waterfront town center area that stretches from Main Street to a corner of Seaplane Lagoon. The city will also solicit interest in developing an 82-acre spot next to that; preferred projects include corporate “build to suit” development or a “major sales tax generator” like a premium outlet mall.
“I hope we find something that will inspire us,” City Councilman Tony Daysog said.
Council members tangled on a handful of points, primarily a cap of 800 housing units in the 68-acre parcel, called Site A. Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Councilwoman Lena Tam questioned whether that would be enough housing to attract the transit the city wants there – and is relying on to blunt the traffic development at the Point will create.
But City Manager John Russo argued that allowing more homes could impact the city’s ability to redevelop existing buildings into housing, which he said will already be a costly proposition. The Navy will get $50,000 for every new housing unit developed at Alameda Point beyond a cap of 1,425 new homes, an additional cost Russo said could short-circuit future efforts to rehab some of the Point’s aging buildings as housing.
The request for qualifications was amended to let developers interested in Site A know that they would be responsible for the $50,000 payments for every unit they want to build beyond the 800 proposed.
Another major topic of debate centered around whether the city should disqualify developers whose responses include site plans and drawings (the disqualification language was removed). Ashcraft and Tam argued that drawings should be permitted, while Russo and Mayor Marie Gilmore expressed concerns that residents would fall in love with the renderings and face disappointment if they failed to become reality.
Prospective developers will be required to offer a project description and proof that they have the experience to build whatever projects they propose. They’ll have six weeks to respond to the request for qualifications once it’s issued; a panel that includes stakeholders and community members will review the responses. Developers who are selected to negotiate a deal will have up to 12 months to do so.
Ott said she hopes to have finalists for developing the sites to the council in September and exclusive negotiating agreements ready to go by November. Development plans could be approved as early as the spring of 2015, with pre-development activities starting the following fall or winter.
City staff is seeking out a single developer for Site A and one or more developers interested in the 82-acre site, called Site B. In a report to the council, city staff said they’re focusing on these two areas first because both are “gateway” sites fronting on major roads where new development is planned. Development of much of the Point will involve reuse of existing buildings.
The city took title to about 1,400 acres of Alameda Point in 2012, including much of the property for which developers are being solicited. But portions of both parcels are still being cleaned of toxic contamination and aren’t yet in the city’s hands, with one chunk not due to be transferred to the city until 2020 – a year later than originally planned.
Over the past two years policymakers and city staff worked on planning documents that staff said would ease the way for redevelopment of the Point as the market for real estate is heating up. Still, Ott said that additional planning work will need to be done after developers are selected.
One key element of any deal reached: Developers will be required to construct roads and other infrastructure, and to pay a fee to fund additional infrastructure, like sea level rise protections. Before state lawmakers canceled California’s redevelopment program, those improvements were often funded by future property tax dollars.
Ott said that whoever developers Site A, for instance, would be asked to kick in $91 million for grading the land for development plus roads, parks and other improvements.
The document outlines also limit the city’s responsibility for moving forward with a developer. Alameda paid more than $4 million to settle lawsuits brought by SunCal Companies, its former master developer for Alameda Point, after the council declined to extend its exclusive agreement to negotiate a development deal, in 2010.
Separately, the city is soliciting comments on a proposed development plan for the full 150-acre waterfront town center, much of which is being pitched to developers in the requests for proposals. The Planning Board will consider the draft plan on April 28, and written comments on the plan will be accepted through May 15.
Earlier in the meeting, Ashcraft said she’d like the board’s input on the town center plan before setting a number of homes for a prospective town center developer to consider.
The draft plan envisions an entry area fronting Main Street that will be developed with townhomes and three- to five-story apartment buildings; a town center core with residences stacked on top of retail outlets and restaurants, plus hotels and offices; an Eastern Waterfront area along the edge of Seaplane Lagoon with restaurants, shops, offices, homes and hotels fronting a waterfront promenade; passive parkland on the Western Waterfront; and unspecified development plus a regional park where planes once taxied on and off the base.
The Planning Board heard about plans for “Phase Zero” pre-development activities intended to build buzz on the Point on Monday.
The request for qualifications represents a pivot for the city, which has been criticized for negotiating potential land deals behind closed doors. City staff had negotiated with Charles Company, a Southern California strip mall developer, for several months, but those negotiations have apparently ended.