Letter to the Editor: Alameda Landing design needs tweaking

Letter to the Editor: Alameda Landing design needs tweaking

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Something really great is happening in Alameda! A place that will provide jobs, taxes and develop a long vacant land is at long last under construction. I am referring to the development swiftly occurring of the long delayed Alameda Landing. I urge that we all take a look at the amazing completion of the Target store.

However, it is critical that decision makers and all of us consider what the entire development will “feel” like when the rest of the site is built out. One will forget the jobs and the extra tax dollars over the years as we drive by this area and possibly look at huge box stores surrounded by acres of asphalt – which will resemble the “box store complexes” from Anchorage to Atlanta. The box complexes need not be something that look totally alien to Alameda. We deserve something with the boxes arranged imaginatively, designed with creativity and construction materials that are distinctive.

The acres of asphalt are off-putting for starters, I know we have a high water table here but if one half level of parking could be tucked under some (all?) of the boxes it’d be a huge improvement in the monotony of asphalt. And it’d give the developer more land to build on vs. this potential wasteland of six or seven big boxes separated by parking. Heaven forbid, maybe even a centrally located parking garage would be feasible?

Access to the site appears to be quite limited and for pedestrians, cyclists, and community connections would be improved if more connectivity to adjacent uses were provided. Planted walls are being used in many places to disguise functional uses (like loading docks). Additional plans for transit stops, landscaping, street furniture, loading areas, etc. can also provide additional opportunities for creativity.

I know the cry is “we are too far down the road to change!" Well this is the problem with incremental designs. It is hard to appreciate the finished picture when one is offered only opportunities to look at different aspects, and when the entire design is presented it can be a result that no one really understood or appreciated from looking at the pieces. The design does not appear to be final. I appeal to the decision makers - Alameda deserves better than a “suburban anywhere box store complex.”

It will behoove our community to review the draft plans at the Planning Department and let decision makers know your reaction. Remember this center will provide great positive outcomes for our city through the economic benefits but we’ll be looking at this for many years and want to be able to say “YEA,” not “YUCK.”

Sincerely,

Helen Sause
President, HOMES (Housing Opportunities Make Economic Sense)

Comments

Submitted by Karen Bey on Wed, Jun 19, 2013

Thank you for your post. To go one step further, power centers – which is what we’re getting with the current design at Alameda Landing have largely been unsuccessful with many of them going dark and many converting to more urban formats. Stores like Circuit City, Linens and Things, etc. that used to anchor Fremont’s Pacific Commons power center no longer exist, and now stores that survived the big box era like Best Buy is looking at smaller prototypes. We need to learn from past mistakes, and not repeat them.

One challenge we face is that Catellus’s specialty is NOT lifestyle design. Catellus is largely a big box developer. Many of their developments are warehouses and industrial buildings. Retail projects like a Target supercenter or a Home Depot is more up their alley. Take a look at Pacific Commons to get an idea of who they are. The infrastructure they have in place (architects, planners, etc.) are used to designing large format developments. So we may be asking the wrong developer be “creative and imaginative”. Retailers that specialize in urban design and lifestyle design - like Retail West, Jamestown, (and there are others) have the infrastructure in place to be creative and imaginative because that’s what they do every day.

For example, Jamestown is moving away from the more uniform look of the previous development and re-configuring Alameda South Shore to be a lifestyle center. Their new design guidelines create an eclectic, creative and unique look - a look which appeals to today’s urban shopper, and frankly fits in more with Alameda. If you look at some of their past developments, you get a good idea of who they are and what they do.

Final point, there are different types of retail developers. Just like in housing, there are housing developers that specialize in multi-units, and others that specialize in single family. Every developer has their specialty and it’s important to understand that before selecting a developer for a particular project.

Helen I hope it’s not too late for Alameda Landing, because you said it well – Alameda deserves better!