Publication: The Alamedan
Date: August 25, 2014
A massive Canadian developer with tens of thousands of lots spread across North America and a group that includes some prominent Bay Area developers have been named finalists in the race to win the right to build a neighborhood of homes and shops at Alameda Point.
The City Council will decide on September 2 whether to negotiate with both Calgary-based Brookfield Residential and Alameda Point Partners – a team of developers that includes Alameda-based SRM Ernst, retail powerhouse Madison Marquette, multifamily homebuilder Thompson Dorfman Partners and affordable housing builder Eden Housing – for the development of a 68-acre parcel of the Point that includes part of a future town center.
The council could pick a developer for the new, mixed-use neighborhood in November, and negotiations for a final deal could take six months to a year. Finalists for a second, 82-acre parcel where city leaders hope to see either a major corporate user or outlet mall are to be considered by the council on September 16.
In a report to council members, staffers said they are recommending the city negotiate with two developers instead of one to foster competition and, they believe, get a better deal for the city.
In their submittals to the city, both sets of developers pitched themselves as familiar with Alameda – and eager to build.
“It’s time to build,” Alameda Point Partners wrote in the cover letter to its 87-page pitch, which spoke to the challenges the city has faced in its earlier efforts to redevelop its former Naval air station.
Another arm of Brookfield recently purchased the Marina Village shopping center, and architects and other firms working with the company have helped the city with plan to develop its civic core and revitalize shopping districts on Park and Webster streets; SRM Ernst – whose head, Joe Ernst, lives on the Island and will lead Alameda Point Partners’ efforts if they are selected – helped VF Outdoor and Peet’s build facilities in the Harbor Bay Business Park.
In their report to council, city staff wrote that they are “very familiar with Mr. Ernst and very comfortable with his project management skills.”
In its proposal, Brookfield said they would seek to build 800 new homes on the town center parcel, plus 100,000 to 200,000 square feet of commercial space, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets and parks. The developer said it would work collaboratively with residents and other stakeholders if chosen.
“Our goal is to respect the existing residents and businesses while enhancing the overall Alameda Point experience,” the company’s representatives wrot.
Alameda Point Partners pledged to build 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of retail space – an “open air lifestyle” shopping center with unique stores and galleries – plus 30,000 to 50,000 square feet of “creative office” space for smaller businesses, parks and at least 800 townhomes, condominiums, apartments and live/work spaces though they said the project – which is supposed to draw and rely on transit – might benefit from additional housing development.
Mill Valley-based Thompson Dorfman built the housing that sits on top of shops liming Emeryville’s Bay Street, which Madison Marquette helped develop and manages; the retail firm’s portfolio stretches across 14 states and Washington, D.C. Hayward-based Eden Housing has developed homes for seniors, families and disabled people all over the Bay Area.
Brookfield’s projects include Playa Vista in Los Angeles, a development that includes more than 6,000 rental and for-sale homes, assisted living for seniors, more than 200,000 square feet of retail space and 3 million square feet of offices; and Seton, a 365-acre project in Calgary that includes 2.5 million square feet of office and retail space, 1,300 homes, a 16-acre regional park, a public library, recreation center and schools, a hospital campus and a hotel.
Ten developers submitted proposals to develop the town center property and seven, the commercial zones. The list of developers cut out of the running for the town center property include Catellus, which developed the Bayport neighborhood and is developing Alameda Landing; Mission Bay Development Group, which developed the Mission Bay neighborhood in downtown San Francisco; CIM Group, a major downtown Oakland property owner and developer; and Tim Lewis Communities, which is seeking to develop the Del Monte warehouse and adjacent Encinal Terminals properties with homes and shops.
Catellus, CIM Group, Mission Bay and Trumark are still in the running to develop the 82-acre commercial property.
City leaders are hoping the third time is the charm for their efforts to redevelop Alameda Point. So far the city has effectively served as its own master developer for the Point, deciding what can be built there and completing much of the review and approval process for those plans before reaching out to developers to make them reality.
In 2001, the city picked Alameda Point Community Partners – a group that included Livermore’s Shea Homes, Centex Homes of Dallas, Industrial Realty Group and Morgan Stanley – to redevelop the Point. But the partnership fell apart and the companies that remained walked away after the Navy slapped a $108.5 million price tag on the land, in 2006.
City leaders selected SunCal Companies to redevelop the Point in 2007, but booted them off the Island three years later after voters soundly rejected a plan to build 4,500 new homes there.
Much of the property included in the two parcels slated for development isn’t in the city’s hands yet – and may not be for several years, as the Navy works to clear it of toxins. Both developers said their activities would be based around the Navy’s cleanup schedule, with Alameda Point Partners saying they’d begin by building homes across the street from the Bayport development.
Separately, the city is in talks with a South Bay group seeking to develop 5.5 acres of taxiway property on the Point and also, the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters.
Also on September 2, the council is scheduled to hold a closed-door session to discuss negotiations with the Army Corps of Engineers over the Oakland Inner Harbor tidal canal and to consider amendments to several leases with Alameda Point-based businesses.