Planning Board discusses Alameda Point vision

Planning Board discusses Alameda Point vision

Michele Ellson

The city’s planners are framing a vision for Alameda Point that includes a Main Street neighborhood lined with homes and shops, a research and development hub, transit, parks and a waterfront promenade flanked by restaurants and a marina.

Planners offered a draft form of their vision for the Point, where they hope to see 1,400 new homes and 10,000 workers over the next several decades, at a special Planning Board meeting on Wednesday. The board also got a preliminary look at some concepts for the Point’s proposed town center, which planners see as the heart of redevelopment efforts there.

City Planner Andrew Thomas said the planning guide is being put together at the Planning Board’s request, in order to give the public a better understanding of what’s being considered at the Point.

“We had all these pieces we had to put in place. And we started to realize, everybody was struggling with all the different pieces,” Thomas said.

A revised version of the guide is due back to the Planning Board in a month.

The draft of the guide offered Wednesday lays out a plan for streets, transit and bike paths, 250 acres of parks and a half-dozen subareas that will offer a mix of homes and businesses.

Those include:

-A 107-acre Enterprise Zone next to Seaplane Lagoon – where city leaders had hoped a second Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus would go – that planners now hope will become a “thriving employment center” with research and development, industrial and office uses;

-A Main Street neighborhood along the northeastern edge of the Point that would include the existing Big Whites and new homes, the Alameda Point Collaborative, the Albert H. DeWitt Officers Club and neighborhood-serving businesses;

-A 216-acre adaptive reuse zone where food and drink manufacturers like St. George Spirits and Rock Wall Wine Company could multiply, along with maritime wholesaling, warehousing, light manufacturing and other businesses;

-A 125-acre town center, which planners see as “the heart of Alameda Point,” with a waterfront promenade, restaurants, events, a transit center and a 530-slip marina.

It also shows where some 250 acres of parks, including an Enterprise Park south of the jobs zone and another in the northwestern tip of the Point, could go.

Planning Board member John Knox White said the guide should include more information on where transit will go, and he questioned whether the city should include the proposed housing number in it.

“As we talk to people – nobody seems to think that 1,400 (homes) is where we’re going to land in 30 years,” he said. “I’m not saying pick a number that’s higher. I’m just saying we don’t need to limit it, and I encourage us to remove that.”

But Planning Board member Danya Alvarez-Morroni said she thinks the level of detail provided is enough to give the public an idea of what the city is considering.

“At the start of an essay, you write an outline. This is our outline,” she said.

Planning Board President David Burton said he’d like to see a smaller main street at the Point, to encourage slower driving and more walking and biking.

In addition to the planning guide, consultants hired by the city are putting together a detailed plan for the Point’s proposed town center. Early ideas for the center, which would front much of Seaplane Lagoon, include attention-drawing events and urban camping, public art and pop-up shops, cafés and restaurants.

On big challenge, the city’s consultant said, is the spot’s lack of visibility.

“There’s a lot going on out there. There are people making things, there are people inventing things, there are people growing things. Very few people know it exists,” he said.

Even so, board members said they’re excited about the possibilities.

“At one time we had a Coney Island in Alameda, right?” Alvarez-Morroni said. “Sometimes things come all the way around. It would be great to make a vibrant destination spot.”