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Groundbreaking Of Alameda Point Site A Signals Start Of Alameda's Development Boom

After 20 years of planning, redevelopment is underway at Alameda Point Site A. Developers and city officials broke ground Wednesday, starting off the first phase of the $1B mixed-use transit-oriented waterfront development. The development is the first major public-private development at Alameda Point since the Naval Air Station closed in 1997.

Alameda Point Collaborative's Doug Biggs, Eden Housing's Linda Mandolini, Alameda council members Jim Oddie and Frank Matarrese, Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, srmERNST Development's Joe Ernst, Alameda council member Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Vice Mayor Malia Vella, Trammell Crow Residential's Bruce Dorfman and Alameda Director of Base Reuse and Transportation Jennifer Ott

Alameda has partnered with the private JV Alameda Point Partners, which is led by Trammell Crow Residential and includes srmERNST Development,  Madison Marquette, Cypress Equity Investments and Eden Housing.

“It takes a village and this one certainly did,” Trammell Crow Residential Senior Managing Director Bruce Dorfman said.

The start of this long-awaited project signals a development boom for the city of Alameda, which hasn’t had a significant amount of new office and multifamily in the last decade. The city also is considering plans to redevelop the Alameda Marina. Developers Bay West and marina owner Pacific Shops Inc. want to build 760 units of housing, 250K SF of commercial space and 3.4 acres of parks. Another project under consideration is the 589-unit Encinal Terminals redevelopment.

Rising construction costs had put the Alameda Point Site A project in doubt last year, but funding was secured and the land transfer completed in March.

Aerial rendering of Alameda Point Site A

Phase 1 of Site A, which is expected to cost $500M, will produce 637 housing units, including 130 affordable units for low-income and very-low-income households and 300 units for middle-income households.

The site will have 8 acres of parks and open space, a Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal and 100K SF retail, dining and makerspaces.

Infrastructure is expected to be completed within the next two years with the first residential buildings expected to be completed toward the end of 2019. The ferry terminal is expected to open in 2020.

Alameda Vice Mayor Malia Vella

APP is expected to move forward with another 20 acres transferred from the city in 2019 for the project’s second phase, which will include office and residential. Timing of the third phase, which is expected to be turned into a hotel and commercial site, depends on the Navy’s remaining remediation activities.

The entire 68-acre master-planned Site A will lead to 800 residential units, 600K SF of commercial and 15 acres of public space and parks.

Alameda Vice Mayor Malia Vella said the project benefits from being split up into bite-sized chunks from an economic standpoint, and the rest of the redevelopment will be conceptualized phase by phase.

She said the city learned that it works best to have a holistic plan that takes into account the needs of the entire community from jobs to housing and transit and infrastructure.

srmERNST founder and principal Joe Ernst

Joe Ernst, founder and principal of srmERNST Development, said he really learned how to be efficient with land use, infrastructure, density and taking into account sea level rise and transit needs during the planning process.

He said the team plans to maximize value of the subsequent phases that will cover the 100 acres. He said one of the biggest driving forces of the redevelopment is to create jobs, since 18,000 jobs were lost when the Navy closed the base. The company is in the process of redeveloping West Tower 9 at Alameda Point and has already secured a 55K SF lease from Kairos Power. Ernst said another development across the street from this one brought in a local brewery.

Trammell Crow Residential's Dorfman said with the start of Site A, Alameda will be able to better attract more business.

He said he hopes a site earmarked for R&D will attract a tech company that will see Alameda now has the housing, the retail and the transit needed to support a company and its employees.

Not A ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Community

Trammell Crow Residential Senior Managing Director Bruce Dorfman

New multifamily is huge for the city. There hasn’t been much new market-rate multifamily for decades, Dorfman said. The city has been struggling to keep up with demand following a 40-year ban on new apartment buildings.

“It’s vitally important to reduce some of the burden on current residents,” he said.

Every block built will have a different architect and different style, so it won't look like a cookie-cutter neighborhood, he said.

Trammell Crow Residential will build a 220-unit project designed by BAR Architects with 15K SF of retail that is expected to break ground in late 2018.

Cypress Equity Investments plans to build a 200-unit project designed by PYATOK for moderate-income households and 10K SF of retail/commercial. Trumark Homes plans to build 63 townhomes designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning.

Much-Needed Affordable Housing

In addition to several market-rate housing projects, the site also will contain an affordable housing component from Eden Housing designed by KTGY.

“Alameda Point gives us hope to meet regional and statewide housing needs,” Vella said.

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said during the event the need for affordable housing is one of the biggest issues in the county. Average rent in the county is $3,600, meaning residents have to earn $140K to afford rent at one-third of their incomes.

“That’s a difficult threshold to attain,” she said.

Alameda County has already benefited from a $580M Measure A1 bond that has led to 1,000 units of affordable housing in the county and will help fund affordable housing at Site A, she said.

Eden Housing President Linda Mandolini

Eden Housing President Linda Mandolini said Eden has 22,000 households on its waiting list. For every unit it opens, it receives 30 applications.

The affordable housing at Site A will include a mix of 70 family units and 60 units for senior housing, which she said has some of the greatest need. The waitlist for senior housing is five to 10 years long whereas the waitlist for families is slightly better.

Being a part of this large-scale development was key to bringing more affordable units to the East Bay.

“If we don’t do it in combo with the large site, its almost impossible to get land dedicated,” she said.

Affordable housing developers don't have the funding to compete on bids for land this large, she said. Fortunately, each of the bases that are planned for redevelopment around the Bay Area have an affordable housing requirement, she said.

Creating A Transit-Oriented Neighborhood

Rendering of the future waterfront at Alameda Point Site A

The site also is meant to support a new generation less reliant on cars and help reduce congestion around the region, Alameda council member Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said.

The project includes an $18M investment in city transportation, which includes the new ferry terminal as well as  buses that service the area every 15 minutes to 20 minutes during peak commute hours, bike- and car-sharing and the city is working with BART to create last-mile solutions. Transit passes also would be provided to everyone who lives and works at the site, she said.

She said if Regional Measure 3 passes, a new BART tunnel could be constructed that would have a station at Alameda Point. RM3 is a transportation measure that would raise bridge tolls to fund transit improvements.

“What we have to do is a new approach and that’s putting fewer cars on the road, but we have to give our commuters and residents a viable means to do that,” Ashcraft said.