Oooh, interesting closed session item on next week’s City Council agenda:
CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATORS (54956.8) Property: 707 West Tower Avenue (Building 9), 650 West Tower Avenue (Building 41), Building 77
Negotiator: Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer – Alameda Point Negotiating party: Del Monte Corporation
Under negotiation: Price and terms of payment
Interestingly enough the negotiator is not the City Manager. But Del Monte Corporation that is much much less vague than the two other closed session property negotiation items we have seen come up previously. But before we get all excited that Alameda will get back some canning factory a la the old Del Monte factor on Buena Vista, the Del Monte Corporation makes a lot more than just canned veggies these days.
So for those that have difficulty wrapping their heads around the concept that parking has some sort of fixed cost. Even parking that is “free” as subsidized by your friendly local big box store or shopping mall. There is this great tool that was created by King County is Washington (think Seattle metro area) that shows how much it costs to build parking in their area and how much less you can develop for if you lower the parking minimums per development. This is for multi family residential housing but gives an idea of how much parking spaces cost and that the cost must be absorbed and passed along somewhere.
The tool is Right Size Parking and can be found at the web address I linked to. Knowing nothing about the Seattle Metro area I chose Mercer Island because, well, it’s an island.
I kept all the pre set values that were automatically inputed into the tool and this was the result:
So you all know I still track the whole Orange County Great Park thing. Mainly because during previous administrations it was help up as the ideal of what Alameda should strive toward when considering Alameda Point. Probably because it was called the “Great Park” and the plan largely centered around creating a huge Central Park like area meaning the the majority of the land would be, well, a park. Meaning no housing, which makes people in Alameda very very happy when you talk about plans that involve little to no housing. Since the Great Park was first held up as the example of what Alameda Point should be, it has all gone slowly downhill from there, culminating in an article in the LA Times about scrapping the majority of what made the Great Park the Great Park and going for a more traditional, residential centric plan.
From the LA Times:
On Tuesday, the Irvine City Council is expected to vote on whether to approve a plan proposed by a developer to build about 688 acres of the park. Gone is the long, winding canyon that was described in the park’s master plan as a “beautiful oasis — a place to wander and daydream.” In its place could be a 188-acre golf course. Gone is the largely centralized parking that would have forced people out of their cars to wander around the park. In its place, parking lots scattered throughout.
So much twisted logic at the Planning Board meeting last week, I have no words…
Okay, that’s not true, I had lots of words but mostly everything began with WTF?
So the Planning Board last week took on the topic of Draft Zoning Plan for Alameda Point (zoning amendment whatever). Oh, quick note, City Staff referenced an article in the Alameda Sun which talked about the “disappearing park” at Alameda Point and essentially said that they had no idea to what this was referring to. Based on comments from the columnist’s blog, it appears that the discrepancy was chalked up to an issue of semantics and because the word “park” didn’t exist that meant that the park has “disappeared” even though the text made it appear that there was no designation for park/open space at all. But whatevs.
Back to the main event. So there was a presentation about parking and how Alameda Point is going to do parking differently in order to help control traffic, etc. The idea is, make parking a commodity and people will rethink their need to take a car everywhere. I don’t necessarily disagree with all the strategies that they suggested, but one of the Planning Board members did. Lorre Zuppan came out strongly against the parking strategies because people can’t take public transportation everywhere. And not everyone knows how to ride a bike. And she knows, because she takes the bus every day and once saw a guy trying to take his shopping cart (not THOSE shopping carts) on to the bus and almost got kicked off because it was too big and it was cold outside. Oh and the people who live at the Collaborative, it’s not fair for them to have to pay for parking.
There are a few topics out there that I know are really important, but one that I don’t feel I can write abut with any authority probably because as important as I know that it is, the subject makes me a little cross-eyed at time. So, instead of me attempting to slog through it, John Knox White has shared this letter that he sent to the City Council on the issue of sea level rise and Alameda Point. So here it, it should be very informative as to the discussion around how to plan for sea level rise at Alameda Point. The letter is directed at the City Council, just in time for tonight’s meeting:
At Tuesday night’s meeting (11/19), your agenda presents a discussion on sea level rise that came to the Planning Board last week. At our meeting, members of the Board praised the science and data the city staff has chosen to determine predictions for future impacts at Alameda Point. The presentation does a great job of showing that the planning for Alameda Point is relying on solid climate science that is in line with current assumptions.
At that same meeting, a majority of the Board, 2/3 of the members in attendance, also questioned whether the city was using the right timeframe for mitigations from sea level rise. Staff is currently proposing to use a 37-year time horizon for initial sea level rise mitigation. As such, it is likely that some amount of Alameda Point will be built with less than 30 years before the next round of sea level protection must be built. New homeowners will not have paid off their first mortgage before the shoreline around the entire area will need to be dug up and replaced with a higher wall at immense cost and disruption.
So based on the public discussions from the City Council around these innovative developers that are going to “wow” us all with their exciting and innovative plans for Alameda Point that can’t be discussed publicly lest someone steal their idea (or something like that) I’m getting the sinking feeling that at least one of the two developers — Charles Co. — might be here to stay since they’ve had not one, but two closed session agenda items to talk “price and terms”.
Finding information about Charles Company has proved to be rather difficult.
Here are a pair of older articles about a strip mall Charles Co. owned in Las Vegas . In this case the owner was technically Tropec LLC which is owned by the owners of Charles Co.: Arman and Mark Gabay. The first article details how the strip mall was left to languish without leases renewed:
The owners of the Tropicana Center strip mall have either $61 million to burn or a secret plan.
The mystery businessmen bought the shopping center for many millions nearly three years ago and since then have all but encouraged businesses to leave.
Leases generally aren’t being renewed, the trees in the parking lot have been cut down and most nights the lights in the parking lot don’t work.
The easiest part of Ron Cowan’s bid to build housing at the current site of the Harbor Bay Club is before the the Planning Board tonight and that is the rezoning of the North Loop parcel from open space to some type of commercial. It would be difficult — given the arguments that have been lobbed against various projects put forward including the new-HBC and the old plan to put a sport complex of sorts during the Mif swap era — to say that it should still remain open space. So I imagine that this one should be approved without much fanfare.
All right, I totally mucked this one up. I had assumed that anything submitted by Ron Cowan would naturally be a part of the new HBC swap-y thing. Turns out, this is another parcel that Ron Cowan wants to convert from Open Space to Commercial. I guess he’s on quite the development kick these days or just wants to be able to sell the land. This one should actually get some push back from the Planning Board because it must have been zoned open space for a reason (aka because there should be a specific development there: restaurant). I don’t know if the rationale of “peeps want to buy it if we can rezone it” is a good enough reason. But anyway, sorry about the earlier mistake!
Oh, since I’m on the topic, the last Planning Board meeting went pretty well even though the EIR scoping for the Harbor Bay Club homes was on the agenda. The opponents of the new Ron Cowan developments took a page out of the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society book and put their best foot forward and let the overly emotional speakers stay in the audience. Although there were a few notable exceptions including the speaker who suggested that putting the Harbor Bay Club at the North Loop site was a bad idea because there are a bunch of creepy people that work at the business parks over there and the women and children that might use the facility could be in grave danger. It’s probably all the VF Outdoor rock climbing hippies he’s referring to. We all know how much of a danger they are amirite? I hope someone also warned the the students and parents at the Preschool down the street and Chinese Christian Schools. Because if the area is too dangerous for potential Harbor Bay Club members clearly it’s too dangerous for those long term tenants as well.
On Tuesday the City Council listened to an informational item presented by City Staff about moving forward with Alameda Point. As I mentioned in other blog posts there have been these agenda items that have names of development companies for closed session agenda items to talk about “Price and Terms.” It seems a bit, off, to have discussions with these developers when we have no idea what they are presenting or proposing. While it’s clear that City Staff is shying away from the idea of having an RFP to parcel out pieces of Alameda Point and hold a “beauty contest” of sorts to publicly anoint a developer, I’m not sure this process is a whole lot better. This process seems so much more ripe for accusations of favoritism or back room dealing than any public process would.
City Staff contends that doing it this way means that developers can be more “innovative” on what they propose, but c’mon, let’s be really real here. I don’t know how much innovation is going to fly before this particular City. I mean we’re really quite limited on what I think people want to see. The overall scoffing at “innovative” proposals like the one from the Dubai outfit is probably what will face anything above and beyond a shopping mall, houses, and a business park.
tonight. Next Tuesday, sorry folks totally jumped the gun on this one. City Council. Big brouhaha is going to be over the consideration of who to hire to lease and property manage Alameda Point. Right now PM Realty is the current leasing and property management company. There has been some criticism about PM Realty that they aren’t aggressive enough when it comes to leasing and that’s why there’s been so much vacancy out there. I don’t know if that is necessarily true or not because you also hear about how previous City Managers wouldn’t let long term leases be executed because of future development and seriously the infrastructure is pretty crappy out there so you’ve already severely limited your pool of prospective tenants.
Any who, the big brouhaha is not that this is happening but who the finalists are. So first finalist is PM Realty who is now partnering with Cushman & Wakefield which is a pretty large scale commercial real estate company so they should be able to bring a lot of contacts to that relationship. In fact the lead for the PM Realty and Cushman & Wakefield team will be a guy who brought VF Outdoor to Alameda as well. The second finalist is California Capital Investment Group (CCG) better known as Phil Tagami. For those that are not familiar with Phil Tagami he’s a pretty big deal developer type guy in Oakland. He’s big into Historic Renovation type projects the significant ones in Oakland are the Fox Theatre and the Rotunda Building. His company is also going to be developing the Oakland Army Base as well.
These two companies beat out two other companies for the finalist spots, the other two were local operation Gallagher and Lindsey and Colliers International with Mission Bay Development Group. I was actually interested in why that group didn’t get one of the final two nods since Mission Bay has done an amazing job leasing out spaces.
So you all know where PV square is right? It’s the Phua building across the street from the Alameda Marketplace. A while ago I spotted a sign that indicated that a Brewery was “Coming Soon” turn out that coming soon is sooner than we all expected after the “Square” had been vacant for so long. Enter SpotMojo a site that, apparently, is used for people to suggest what they want at a certain vacant storefront. Sort of a wish list. SpotMojo posted a thing on PV square a while back and, I guess, one of the big things people said they wanted was a brewery. Evidently the owner of PV Square is working to make that happen.
The result of that effort is the Alameda Island Brewing Company, which will be co owned by Bill Phua and head brewmaster Matthew Fox. From the Spotmojo page on the Alameda Island Brewing Company here is Matthew Fox’s bio:
I was stationed in Alameda with the Coast Guard on the USCGC Morgenthau. I met my wife Jennifer there, an Alameda High graduate. We moved to San Diego when I was stationed at the Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team. After I got home from Iraq, I left the Coast Guard and started school. We both Graduated from Cal State East Bay and moved to Redlands, CA. That’s where I got into home brewing and have won many awards and medals, most recently a gold at the Pacific Brewer’s Cup.
The gold medal he won was for creating an American Ale. I’m sure there is some nuanced distinction, but I’m not a drinker so I have no idea what it is.