Homes, retail space proposed for historic Del Monte warehouse

Homes, retail space proposed for historic Del Monte warehouse

Michele Ellson
Del Monte warehouse

Before and after shots offered during a presentation on plans for the former Del Monte warehouse at 1501 Buena Vista Avenue.

A Sacramento-area homebuilder has unveiled plans to build up to 414 lofts, townhomes and flats and 25,000 square feet of shops and restaurants in and around the old Del Monte warehouse at the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and Sherman Street.

City Planner Andrew Thomas told the Planning Board on Monday that he’s hoping to have development approvals completed in four months, with final approvals to be considered by the City Council in June. The Planning Board did not take any action on the development proposal at Monday’s meeting.

“We think we have the right development team, and the economy is right now. Whether it’s thumbs up or thumbs down on this project, we’d like to know,” Thomas said Monday.

Planning Board members expressed excitement about Tim Lewis Communities’ proposal to redevelop the 11.5-acre property, something the city has sought since 2001.

“This is incredible,” Planning Board member Mike Henneberry said, adding that he’s glad the developer has put the historic nature of the building front and center in its plans.

The developer wants to build 309 housing units and 10,000 square feet of retail space in the 5.4-acre Del Monte warehouse space, representatives told the Planning Board, and additional homes and shops could be constructed on the site. Parking would be tucked under the housing and shops.

“We don’t want to surround the building with a sea of parking. We would rather carefully hide it inside,” said Paula Krugmeier, a principal with BAR Architects in San Francisco.

Krugmeier said the development team would like to “carefully excise” interior sections of the building in order to provide the proper dimensions, light and air for housing, leaving open spaces in between. The team is also proposing to open a public paseo through the center of the 1,000-foot-long warehouse that would connect residents and visitors to a waterfront that would be lined with trails, shops and restaurants.

The building’s original brick façade and windows would be maintained under the proposal, Krugmeier said; its old railroad platform would be repurposed as private patios for residents.

Plans for the site don’t offer park space, though Krugmeier noted that the development would be across the street from Littlejohn Park.

The Del Monte site is listed in a proposed general plan housing element as being able to realistically accommodate up to 200 homes and zoned to permit up to 30 homes per acre, though Thomas said the capacities listed for sites where homes could be built are flexible. The site is zoned to allow a mix of uses, including housing that isn’t compatible with Measure A, which restricts the development of multifamily housing.

Fifteen percent of the homes that would be built on the Del Monte property would be required to be affordable to people with low and moderate incomes under a city ordinance.

Another site where the developer has sought to build homes, a former federal government property now called Neptune Pointe, has been embroiled in a dispute between the city, the federal government and the East Bay Regional Park District, which has sought to obtain the property to expand Crab Cove. Representatives for the city, the park district and Tim Lewis Communities are in talks to resolve a lawsuit over the city’s decision to rezone the property to permit housing, while a group of parks supporters are working to put a measure to restrict its use to parkland on the ballot.

Built in 1927 and used by Del Monte until the 1960s, the warehouse has been designated a city landmark – one of 30 in Alameda, Thomas said. It has seen industrial uses since 1994 but is now largely vacant.

The property’s prior owner, Peter Wang, offered redevelopment proposals that included a marketplace, a hotel, assisted living for seniors and housing. But none of those proposals ever came to fruition, and Wang eventually filed for bankruptcy, selling the Del Monte property to Tim Lewis in 2013.

A consulting firm the city hired in 2009 proposed a mix of homes, flexible live-work space and other uses for the Del Monte property and adjacent Chipman warehouse and Encinal Terminals sites. Lennar bought the Chipman warehouse site from Trident Partners in October, which had planned to build 89 homes there.

Thomas said the city has been working to remove “regulatory barriers” in order to speed reuse of the building.

“This community is looking for a project that adaptively reuses the monument,” he said.


Submitted by C. (not verified) on Tue, Mar 11, 2014

Michelle - Isn't this the same developer as the one who wants to build upscale housing next to Crown Cove? If so, he is definitely trying to make a buck here in Alameda.

Submitted by tom (not verified) on Tue, Mar 11, 2014

So will the City of Alameda sell the AUSD tidelands property to Tim Lewis (owner of DelMonte Property) if it is successful in swapping it with AUSD for land on Alameda Point? Interesting that the school district does not want its tideland trust property next to the DelMonte property valued! I'm sure Tim Lewis wants this piece of tide land for development of Encinal Terminals property he owns. The tidelands trust property is highly valuable to the school district…they should keep it and consider selling it to Lewis for a tidy profit!!!

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Tue, Mar 11, 2014

Hi C: This is the same developer seeking to build homes on Neptune Pointe, the surplused federal property across the street from Crab Cove. And Tom, as I understand it, the Tidelands is public trust property - which I think means the city cannot sell it.

Submitted by Denyse (not verified) on Tue, Mar 11, 2014

I hope that with all the new proposed development in Alameda (Neptune, naval base, and now, this) the city, county, and state will finaly agree that we need more and better access to and from the west end of the island. They can't simply keep trying to squeeze more people through the existing tubes. When will we see a proposal for a multi-modal (ped and bikes) bridge from one of these developers to go along with all the extra housing?

Submitted by newhomealameda (not verified) on Tue, Mar 11, 2014

Wouldn't it be nice if the retail is Whole Foods? They did not want to come west of Webster, so this is east.

Submitted by Marvin Hamon (not verified) on Tue, Mar 11, 2014

The Tide Lands Trust property may not be as valuable as you think. The document that covers the acceptable uses of tidelands trust property can be found here:

It describes uses as, "Traditionally, public trust uses were limited to water-related commerce, navigation, and fishing. In more recent years, however, the California Supreme Court has said that the public trust embraces the right of the public to use the navigable waters of the state for bathing, swimming, boating, and general recreational purposes." Also, "Installations not directly connected with water-related commerce are appropriate trust uses when they must be located on, over or adjacent to water to accommodate or foster commercial enterprises. Examples include oil production facilities, freeway bridges and nuclear power plants. Hotels, restaurants, shops and parking areas are appropriate because they accommodate or enhance the public’s ability to enjoy tide and submerged lands and navigable waterways. The tidelands trust is intended to promote rather than serve as an impediment to essential commercial services benefiting the people and the ability of the people to enjoy trust lands."

The land can't be sold to a private owner but It can be leased out in a long term lease, as part of it has to Fortman Marina. But it can only be developed within the confines of the trust's allowed uses.

Submitted by David (not verified) on Tue, Mar 11, 2014

The City of Alameda's plans may be to get their hands on the tidelands trust parcels (two - 17.05 acres), and, in turn swap it again with some other land, say, at Alameda Point, to free the parcel from the restrictions of the Tidelands Trust. It would then become very valuable indeed.

There is precedent for this - Don Perata pushed legislation back in 1999/2000 for a tidelands trust land swap.

Note that there have been proposals in the past brought forth that plan residential use on those tidelands parcels.

Submitted by Marvin Hamon (not verified) on Wed, Mar 12, 2014

It's true that there have been proposals in the past for residential development on the Encinal site, but nothing has ever progressed past the planning point. I'm sure there are a number of reasons that they never went forward and one was probably the issue with the Tidelands Trust part of the property.

Don was a machine and could push through a lot of things. I don't see someone like that in a position to do the same today. The swap back in 2000 was between land internal to the NAS station. I'm not sure a swap of what might be the only trust land in central Alameda for land out at Alameda Point would be so easy.

I would like to see the Encinal site developed into something that is consistent with the trust property allowed uses. There is actually a lot of flexibility in what can be done short of selling the land to a private developer to put in more housing. We have a lot of land in Alameda to put housing on and it would be nice to have the sea of housing broken up by some developments that are friendly to public use along the waterway.

Submitted by Loulou (not verified) on Wed, Mar 12, 2014

I hope the city is also working on opening the Clement extension to relieve the additional Buena Vista traffic this development will bring.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Wed, Mar 12, 2014

Hey Loulou: The plans did show a Clement Street extension.

Submitted by Allison (not verified) on Wed, Mar 12, 2014

There are so many new developments planned on this tiny island we call home. The increase in cars, traffic, pollution is going to destroy this city. I'm a life-long resident and hate to see all this happening to our town. One thing we/you can do now to stop one of Tim Lewis' developments is to sign the petition to support the protection of the land next to Crab Cove for park space. If you think that an initiative to allow a vote on this should be included on the November Alameda ballot, come to the Farmer's Market this coming Saturday, March 15 or next Saturday, March 22nd (10am-noon) to add your signature to the petition to get it on the ballot (registered Alameda City voters).

Submitted by Karen Bey on Thu, Mar 13, 2014

I'm excited to see this project moving forward. I particularly like Tim Lewis's selection of Bar Architects who has designed everything from high end hotels and multifamily buildings to wineries and resorts.

I'm looking forward to this and all the other exciting developments in the pipeline!

Submitted by Taggart (not verified) on Thu, Mar 13, 2014

Hey Michele, is there any way to change the layout of the site so that the images that accompany articles can be clicked on to view the image in it's original size? I'd really like to see the details in the image that is attached to this article. Thanks!

Submitted by Ingrid (not verified) on Tue, Mar 18, 2014

Allison I can't make it to the Farmers Market, where else can I get my signature on the ballot?

Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Tue, Mar 18, 2014

This sounds like a great project! I love that they are keeping this beautiful old building and putting it to good use. I remember many people were opposed to the re-development of the old theatre and parking garage, and that project has been a wonderful gift to our community. I hope this turns out as well. Whole Foods would be terrific!