Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 14, 2012

Old gold Chevy and a place of my own

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Landing, Business, Development — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Tonight the Planning Board will be considering some large-ish development related items.   The big one, about Alameda Point, has been put on hold for the time being until the City Council meets on June 6 to give direction to staff on how to move forward.   Just as an aside, commenter Karen Bey makes a few excellent points that I wanted to call out here regarding Staff’s frustation over feeling discouraged by the discussion last Tuesday night and other misc issues that came up.

Russo’s claim is that there were three presentations and he and his staff were demoralized after having their strategy rejected by council, but this was the first presentation where the council and the public got to see actual numbers, and budgets, and projections.

I thought the Mayor, and Council member Lena Tam raised some valid questions and concerns about John Russo’s strategy. Both the Mayor and Councilmember Tam raised concerns about going into debt or using our reserves to pay to entitle a plan that doesn’t pencil out. The Mayor also raised the question, why should we sign on to a plan where the city takes on all the risk, and the developer takes none? She asked where is the shared risk in this development strategy.

The other concern I have has to do with the $5M in projected predevelopment and entitlement costs. My bet is that we’ve spent way more than $5M to date on this project. The predevelopment and entitlement costs for most development projects this size far exceed $5M. The Alameda FISC project had well over $5M in predevelopment and entitlement costs. The city should know the actual costs because they had to reimburse Catellus for some if not most of their predevelopment and entitlement costs — but my recollection was that it was close to $15M or more.

But on to the Planning Board, tonight marks the final design review for the Target building so it is speak now or forever hold your peace because if approved it’s a done deal.  Of course someone on the Council could Call it for Review or someone could appeal the decision, but I think we are getting what we are getting at this point folks.   By the way, brief tangent but it’s topical.

On Tuesday night during the City Council meeting around Alameda Point the subject of form based codes came up for Alameda Point as a strategy to help streamline the approve process for vertical development.  Probably one of the only things I think is terrific about the Russo plan.   Anyway, Councilmember Beverly Johnson warned against relying too heavily on form based codes because it might stymied a budding Frank Lloyd Wright from designing something amazing in Alameda.   I couldn’t help but laugh since we have no form based codes right now and nothing is stopping Target from designing something amazing for Alameda Landing and in fact our design review process right now leads to the whole designing by committee problem where a project gets so watered down because one group doesn’t like these awnings or this group doesn’t like the tower etc and so forth.   Form based codes are not to stymie artists, just give architects an expectation of what will make it through design review because the form based codes says that it will.

Anyway, Target building, final approval tonight.

In more Alameda Landing news, the Planning Board will be asked to okay a parcel map for Alameda Landing.

Another big item will be sort of the first official look of what will be going into the Good Chevy site, which I wrote about here a while ago.   There are a few additional slides from the ones I posted before but this issue will definitely spark some interest as Park St improvements typically do.

Finally, this is not on the Planning Board agenda, but rather on the Zoning Administrators agenda.   The Zoning Administrator is a City Staff person who takes on smaller approvals that are mostly ministerial in nature, generally the items approved are for relatively straightforward things that hardly anyone will take any interest in, but there was one item that I think a lot of people should be excited about.   Off the Grid, the food truck event, will be coming on Alameda!   That’s right, South Shore Center has put in an application for approval for a weekly event  — Saturdays between 11:00 and 3:00 p.m. — to be located near the Petco at South Shore.


  1. “but this was the first presentation where the council and the public got to see actual numbers, and budgets, and projections.” And nothing changed by having more numbers. The city can still easily afford to fund the entitlement.

    “entitle a plan that doesn’t pencil out.” The purpose of the advisor is to make sure that it does pencil out. You haven’t stated what earthly motive a city would have to spend two years drawing up plans that are unusable. If you’re worried about disingenuousness in decision making, then why not stand up and tell the council not to sign their names to a no-cost Economic Development Conveyance if you think there is no way we can fulfill the terms of the deal? Signing their names to the No-cost EDC with no intention of ever implementing the reuse plan that is part of the deal is what?

    Why not ask this question instead? How can we spend any money on infrastructure to help any tenants if we don’t have an overall infrastructure plan? Talk about doing something (as councilmember Tam suggested doing with the $5 million) that may not pencil out.

    “where is the shared risk in this development strategy.” We risk entitlement costs. Developers risk money to buy land and construct their project. Bond holders risk money to purchase infrastructure bonds. There’s less risk for all parties under the proposed strategy: We don’t have land that was bought on speculation sitting there for decades with no local control on what happens. Developers don’t have money tied up in land when they have no idea what they are going to use it for. Bond purchasers know there is a complete set of approved drawings showing that the whole project will fit together.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — May 14, 2012 @ 7:33 am

  2. The council and the public heard about the actual numbers ($5 million, 3.2% of lease revenue, etc.) for entitlement back in February and again in March.

    Karen Bey, whom you cite above, is in favor of the trying the master developer model for a third time, which is reflected in her comments. Most, if not all, of the council is on record saying they don’t want to go the master developer route again.

    Comment by Irene — May 14, 2012 @ 8:09 am

  3. Former Good Chevy- I like how the window design and brick facade are compatible with The Marketplace up the street.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — May 14, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  4. 2. wasn’t the presentation Tuesday any deeper than the information presented in February and March? Your comment would seem to imply it was not deeper. Here are some questions I have to ask. In terms of entitelements and penciling out, I’m not even sure if it is all or part of the Point. Is there some apples and oranges going on here ? Like I said , in general I trust the judgement of opeople on both side of the argument, tsaff lected , public etc., so I am looking for how the discussion may be skewed, perajps unintentionally. I have learned that the 3.2 % is of gross lease revenue some of which should obviously be accounted for, or subtracted in any equation in order to establish net revenue is which is available for bond maintainence or emergency contingencies.

    Comment by M.I. — May 14, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

  5. typos galore in #4. that should read “staff, elected, public, etc.” and also “Are” there some apples and oranges going on.

    Comment by M.I. — May 14, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

  6. Kevis, I learned yesterday that at this point, the Park Street windows in the drawing are actually just glass with displays for CVS (like the old Walgreens at 14th and Broadway in Oakland.

    Comment by jkw — May 15, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

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