Council to consider developer for Alameda Point town center

Council to consider developer for Alameda Point town center

Michele Ellson
Joe Ernst

SRM Ernst's Joe Ernst chats up a participant at a developer open house on September 29. Photo by Michele Ellson.

City staffers have selected a finalist in the contest to develop a waterfront town center at Alameda Point.

They’re recommending that the city negotiate a development deal with Alameda Point Partners to build 800 homes and up to 200,000 square feet of commercial uses on a 68-acre portion of the Point. The council is scheduled to consider approving an exclusive negotiating agreement with the development partnership at its November 18 meeting.

Nine development teams sought the right to develop the property, and four were selected for interviews with a panel of city staffers and community leaders. The panel forwarded Alameda Point Partners and Canadian development giant Brookfield Residential for consideration as finalists, and the city has been negotiating terms with both developers.

Staffers are recommending the city move forward with Alameda Point Partners because of the quality and diversity of developers in the partnership and its development approach, which includes more reuse of existing buildings and heavier development along a planned transportation corridor. Staffers also expressed a high degree of comfort with Joe Ernst, who helped develop Harbor Bay Business Park, and they said they think the Alameda Point project will be a bigger priority for the partnership than for Brookfield.

The city is seeking $108 million from the development partnership for the property – $88 million for sewers, parks, flood protection, roads and utilities; $5 million to accelerate waterfront park development; and $15 million in cash, $5 million of it to go toward a planned sports complex and the other $10 million for a new ferry terminal on Seaplane Lagoon. The city is also seeking profit participation in the development if it succeeds financially.

In addition to seeking construction of a ferry terminal before development begins, the city also wants an extension of Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway from Main Street to Seaplane Lagoon that includes bus rapid transit lanes.

As part of the agreement, the city will seek title from the Navy for the property and will seek approvals for ferry service on Seaplane Lagoon.

The city hopes to have a development plan and agreement inked by next May, and while the term of the agreement would be up to 20 years, city staffers are hoping to get development underway more quickly. Under its timeline, construction of roads and other infrastructure could begin in November of 2015. Development of homes and commercial space would start in 2016, and be done midway through 2018.

Ninety days after the council okays a development plan and agreement, the developers are expected to implement “phase zero,” the city’s plan for generating interest and activity at the Point before development starts. The city’s plans for a “creative waterfront” include artisans and night markets, drive-in movies, concerts and holiday events.

Those agreements could meet some resistance from new council members who have expressed a desire to slow development down. Councilman-elect Frank Matarrese has said he doesn’t want to see any new homes at the Point. Presumptive Mayor-elect Trish Spencer has said she also wants focus Point development on job-producing uses and parks.

Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Councilman Tony Daysog voted in favor of the development envelope for the Point, and both have expressed a desire to see new housing there. Councilman-elect Jim Oddie has also offered approval of the city’s current plans for the Point.

If okayed by the council, the negotiating agreement would go into effect on December 1, and the city and the development partnership would have up to a year to finalize a development plan and agreement. The city is hoping to complete the process within six months.

The development partnership includes Thompson Dorfman Partners, a North Bay housing developer; SRM Ernst, which helped develop the Harbor Bay Business Park; retail giant Madison Marquette; financier Tricon Capital; affordable housing developer Eden Housing; and a pair of consulting developers, Tableau Development Company and O2-blue.

The city is also set to choose between a pair of developers for a second, 82-acre site where they hope to see a corporate campus. Catellus and San Francisco’s Mission Bay Development Group are the finalists the city is considering.

City leaders won title to hundreds of acres at the Point in June of 2012, though they don’t yet all of the land now being considered for development. The city signed off on a general development envelope and a list of approvals to move forward with it earlier this year.


Submitted by Jane Sullwold on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Regardless of speculation that a new Council might still approve this project on a 3-2 vote, I believe that the vote should be deferred until after the new members are seated. This project, as well as the Del Monte plan, which is tentatively scheduled to go before Council on December 2, are matters that will affect Alameda for generations to come. It is important that the community hear the views of their newly elected representatives before decisions are made. These projects should not be approved by a lame duck Council.

Submitted by Brian McGuire (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

The term ends in January. Until then, re-elected or not, they should be expect to consider and vote on the city's business until they are replaced.

Submitted by Ariane (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

I think that the current Council should recognize the majority of the residents of Alameda's concerns and desires regarding how development proceeds which has been made loudly clear by the results of the election. Current Council would be wise to table the vote until new members are in office, or at the very least have their opinions help guide any decisions until they take their seats. It will be a bad legacy left behind by those leaving Council if they force unwanted developments on Alameda. I have no problem with development and reasonable residential growth, but it needs to be in line with the realistic constraints we have being an island with limited on/off access. A focus on bringing companies here that provide living wage jobs should be at the forefront of near future projects.

Submitted by Paul Foreman (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

I concur a with the comments of Jane Sullwold and Ariane. I do not speculate on how the new council will vote on these matters, but development was the central issue of this election and the two incumbents who placed their support of these projects at the forefront of their election campaigns were unseated. Thus, the voters have expressed their will that the newly constituted council guide our development plans. Their expression of will should be respected.

Submitted by Travis Wilson (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

I wrote the councilmembers a letter along those lines before the election. (Copied to the Sun: "Take a respectful course").

They didn't reply, but clearly they're aware of the disrespect they would show by approving this negotiation in the face of a no-confidence vote. Please call them out on it.

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

the aforementioned desire for respect pertaining to the will of the voters is shared by me as well, but who knows who owes who what behind the scenes..............

Submitted by Eric (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

The selection of the recommended developer for Alameda Point on 11/18 is the culmination of one process. But it is not approval of the project. This starts the DDA phase which the new council will get to hear. Nothing gets built until a DDA is approved.

Submitted by Doug (not verified) on Wed, Nov 12, 2014

As Eric mentioned, this is not the final step in a development process, but maybe the 3rd of 25 steps. The city contracted with SOM to develop a waterfront concept plan that was vetted by the community at numerous meetings. Priorities around energizing the space through "phase 0" projects and putting transit in place were established by the community. The city then began the process of selecting a potential developer. Meetings and open houses were provided so the community could learn more about the teams. This action by the council will only establish the right to negotiate, and I am sure that all of you that voted for Trish would want her to be leading the negotiations. Her campaign wasn't about no development at Alameda Point. Over and over she talked about the need to develop jobs at Alameda Point, and Parcel A and B focus on that.

Submitted by sidney chiang (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

H0ow about add one more access to the island?

Submitted by trixie green (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

These last-minute attempts to move plans for development forward are just more of the same tone deafness and disrespect for Alamedans that pushed Gilmore out of office. As for the open, inclusive process for the point, asking "how many housing units do you prefer?" is neither open nor inclusive, but an attempt to dress up what you want to do in the first place with facade of public "approval." This and the Del Monte debacle should not be on the council agendas. We have to address the approaching gridlock now, not after it happens. I've talked to two young couples in the last week who are abandoning their plans to move to Alameda because of hearing about how bad traffic has already become.

As for Trish taking office in January, that's not true. She can take office sooner, just as Mayor Gilmore did. As you may recall, Gilmore was in office and had fire city manager Ann Marie Gallant precipitously and illegally by December 27th the year she was elected.

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

Mr. Chiang, I would vote for THAT too......

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

On second thought, why not add 2 or 3 more accesses?