Deal to swap land, fix pools being considered
Deal to swap land, fix pools being considered
The former Island High School site in 2012, before the district cleared it of trash and portables. The Alameda Housing Authority would like to build apartments here.
Updated at 3:41 p.m. Tuesday, February 25 in BOLD
The city, school district and Alameda Housing Authority are in the midst of negotiating a complex deal that could see the district winning funding to refurbish Encinal High School’s pools and a 20-acre plot at Alameda Point in exchange for title to its former Island High School site on Eagle Avenue and ownership of a waterfront site the city would like to develop.
Approvals for the proposed deal are expected to take place in March.
“The city and school district are very close to a comprehensive solution to a number of outstanding issues that have existed between them for, in some cases, as long as 14, 15 years,” City Manager John Russo said Monday. “We’re pretty excited to put all of these different issues behind us.”
If approved by the City Council, Board of Education and Alameda Housing Authority as currently envisioned, the school district could walk away with $1.9 million to refurbish its Encinal High School pools. The district and the city, which uses the high school pools for lessons and coordinates outside groups’ swim sessions, have been trying to hammer out a deal for repair of the pools for three years.
The city would regain a long-sought title to a six-acre Tidelands Trust property on the Encinal Terminal site, which sits behind the Del Monte building on the Alameda/Oakland Estuary. Homebuilder Tim Lewis Communities purchased privately held acreage there after its longtime owner, Peter Wang, declared bankruptcy; plans for that development are pending. The state restricts development of Tidelands Trust property to water-oriented uses that can include marine-related businesses and services for visitors.
The housing authority, meanwhile, would take title to the 0.83-acre former Island High School site at the corner of Eagle Avenue and Everett Street. The housing authority’s Michael T. Pucci told The Alamedan in 2012 that the authority was interested in buying the property but hadn’t identified funding to make the purchase.
The school district would also relinquish its claim on $4.6 million in taxes collected through the city's redevelopment program and set aside in a housing fund for the district, a press release issued Tuesday by the city says, allowing the housing authority to use the money to build affordable housing in to-be-determined locations.
Under the terms of the deals, the city would pay the school district $750,000 toward pool repairs in exchange for title to the Tidelands Trust property, which the district got as part of a deal for Mastick Senior Center, a former school the district gave to the city. The school district would also take title to the 20-acre site on Alameda Point, relinquishing its claim on a 12-acre parcel the city would have owed.
The Point property would be passed from the city to the housing authority, which would give it to the district for another $1.2 million for the Encinal High pools and legal fees incurred by the district. The housing authority would then take title to the Island High site.
Vacant since 2006, plans for the former school site have included a developer’s 2008 proposal to construct three dozen units of affordable housing and a 2011 proposal from neighbors to develop a community garden there.
Pucci said the authority would like to use the property to address the Island’s greatest housing need for lower income residents – two-bedroom apartments.
“If we could get the funding for that, that’s what we would like to do,” Pucci said.
Pucci said he’s not yet sure how many apartments he’d seek to build, and that his agency will need to perform studies, engage neighbors and submit to public hearings before construction begins.
“We’re a ways away,” he said.
The school district’s two high school swim centers have faced repeated closures over the last several years due to their poor condition. City and schools officials determined their best course of action would be to refurbish the Encinal High pools.
The city had offered to pay for some of the Encinal High fixes and loan the district the rest of the money needed, an offer the district countered. Swimmers chastised the city for threatening to pursue a new pool at Alameda Point if the district didn’t agree to take the offer, saying they felt the city was issuing an ultimatum instead of working toward a solution.
The deals are expected to be approved by the the Board of Education on March 11 and the City Council on March 18, a staff report to the Board of Education outlining the deal points says. The Housing Authority Board of Commissioners is expected to consider approving it on March 19.