Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 9, 2013

Special sauce

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Landing, Business, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

I finally finished watching, well, rather listening to the end of the Planning Board meeting with regard to the remnant parcel since the video feed crapped out the audio feed is all that is left. I thought the Planning Board members, particularly Board President David Burton made a lot of good comments about how the buildings for the remnant parcel could be better designed since they were sort of blah.  Oh, in case you weren’t keeping up with the lingo, remnant parcel = In N Out = death of all that is good and special about Alameda.   Now that we have all that cleared up, on to the helpful critiques about the site.

Board President Burton was concerned that given the elevation of the site and how people would be driving toward the site, the lighting from the proposed Safeway gas station — you know, all those super bright lights under the overhangs — would be shining right into the eyes of drivers coming out of the tube.   That’s a problem, but honestly, fixable.   Maybe through a swap of what goes where in the parcel itself.  All in all, I thought the comments from the Planning Board were really helpful to improve an, honestly, pretty difficult site.

While I guess some people would rather it stay vacant or, I’m guessing, turned into “open space” which to me reads as a park that will cost to maintain but will get absolutely no use at all, see Neptune Park and Towata Park for good examples.  Do people use Towata? I don’t venture on that side of the island that much but it’s pretty tiny and there’s nothing there.

It appears that opponents to, let’s face it, opponents to In N Out have glommed on to the idea that if they can capitalize on the fact that this remnant parcel is not “special” enough based on the comments from the Planning Board that the designs of the buildings were pretty meh perhaps they can stop In N Out from coming in.   There is a movement to essentially say that Alameda deserves a better gateway, a better welcome to Alameda than an In N Out and a Safeway gas station.   While I don’t disagree that it would be nice to have some beautiful edifice or monument to welcome people to Alameda, it’s not a deal breaker for me because honestly, all of the other entrances to Alameda are sort of meh as well.

Because nothing says “special” like the newest entrance to Alameda over the Fruitvale bridge, weedy lot to the left and a Starbucks to the right:


And nothing says “special” like the entrance over the High Street bridge, an assisted living home on the left and a vacant (? I don’t think the Great American BBQ is still open is it?  I don’t venture over the High Street Bridge much) building on the right and a repair shop ahead:



And nothing says “special” like another assisted living home on the left and a pretty bland looking shopping mall on the right.   What is it with Alameda gateways and assisted living homes?




I mean, honestly, putting a strip mall type operation at the gateway to the Tube would sort of be in line with all the other entrances to Alameda, if we’re going to be consistent.



  1. Great American BBQ is indeed still empty. I believe the huge hall in that building — which used to be rented by Jazzercise — is also still empty. And Jazzercise left…maybe five years ago? I have completely lost track.

    One of the buildings that I love in the Park Street “gateway” area, by the way, is Alameda Collision Repair. They have fixed up their facade; the combination of brick, trees, and neon lighting is really appealing. Plus the area inside (which you can see from the street) is super clean.

    Comment by Susan Davis — July 9, 2013 @ 6:40 am

  2. fwiw, none of those entrances are called “Gateway to Alameda” and don’t back into a tube.

    Comment by alameda — July 9, 2013 @ 7:04 am

  3. Really? None of the other entrances are called the Gateway? Imagine that.

    Comment by Lauren Do — July 9, 2013 @ 7:17 am

  4. That building on High (jazzercise, bbq, etc) traded for over a million bucks a few years ago and the owner has done NOTHING to add tenants and even kicked out a couple. That is very odd….

    Comment by dave — July 9, 2013 @ 7:19 am

  5. Looking at all of the supposed Gateways to Alameda, I’d have to say that Webster st. coming out of the tube is the best looking.

    Comment by John P. (L) — July 9, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  6. 4. Is it possible that this parcel has become someone’s juicy tax write off? The parking situation there is pretty sucky but I know of a number of dance and theater groups that would love to use the Jazzercise building as rehearsal space but it doesn’t seem like the owner wants anything in there.

    As for Gateways, who needs ’em? You cross a bridge or emerge from the tube into the frickin’ Land of Oz compared to what visuals you have on the other side. That’s gateway enough for me. As for In-N-Out attracting a “bad element”, fine. At least we’ll know where they are. Sated with burgers and Animal Style Fries, they won’t venture any further into town. (Don’t freak out anybody, I’m just being my sweet sarcastic self.)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — July 9, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  7. I think Lorre Zuppan said it best last night: something like “I realize that what I find appalling, other people may like, and what I like, others might find appalling”. Exactly right. Those of us who like IN-N-OUT think it is pretty special. I realize not everyone will feel that way, but I wish those who oppose it would do a little research before dismissing it as just another McD/Jackinthebox etc. In-N-Out has been allowed in where others are not Because it is Special [e.g. Fisherman’s Wharf]. I’m looking forward to those crossed palm trees saying X marks the spot.
    Thanks for the link to the “Gateway” project, Lauren.

    Comment by vigi — July 9, 2013 @ 9:29 am

  8. 6

    Exactly how does that benefit the owner? The depreciation and maintenance expenses would offset income from other sources, but what is the point of that if the building itself produces no cash flow? Spend over a million, so you can spend 20 grand or more a year on taxes and insurance so you can deduct that 20 grand cash outlay plus another 30 or so in depreciation? It’s ludicrous to leave it lying fallow for that reason.

    Comment by dave — July 9, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  9. A lot of work has been done to vision and improve the Gateway for Park Street. The Gateway for Park Street will greatly improve as the Boatworks project and the Northern Park Street District developments proceed.

    The Gateway to Harbor Bay has a park, a golf course, a marina, etc. No doubt, it was considered part of the master plan for Harbor Bay.

    We need to look at the Gateway for West End as part of the overall master plan for the West End. This is a very important marketing corridor to all of the future West End developments which happen to be mostly waterfront projects. It’s important that we tell that story, and the Gateway to the West End is our best opportunity to do so.

    Let’s not repeat past mistakes and miss an important opportunity to create an exciting Gateway on the West End! It will be an investment that will provide a great return.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 9, 2013 @ 9:52 am

  10. @3. Ok … so we have a Gateway District. But (as you are surely aware), the city has plans to spruce it up. Contrast that to setting up new low rent establishment(s) which will probably be around forever.

    Then there are the larger issues of the community repeatedly saying no to additional fast food places on Webster and traffic from the Landing + In-N-Out.

    Just because some of the other entrances are mediocre, doesn’t mean that the West End should follow, as Karen points out in @9. Why can’t we do better?

    Comment by alameda — July 9, 2013 @ 10:11 am

  11. The City has a form based code to make sure that whatever goes in looks good and/or meets a certain design standard so that developers are super clear on what they can and cannot do in the Park Street Gateway. It does not have plans to dictate what retailers can occupy what space which is what petitioners are asking the Planning Board to do. You want a prettier design for the Remnant Parcel? So do I. And that’s what the Planning Board is attempting to do. But I’m not saying that x, y, or z retailer can’t go in because I think it’s too low rent.

    Comment by Lauren Do — July 9, 2013 @ 10:23 am

  12. I agree with Lorre Zuppan and Vigi. What I think is a great project others may think is a terrible project, I’m quite happy with the new In-N-out burger place being in the parcel that it is in. The planning board and eventually the city council will tweak the designs and set backs to make it work, also some access points will be adjusted. The Webster st. gateway will always look better than the other gateways in Alameda because we already have a large park, flags, and trees on one side and a city college on the other side. most people won’t be looking for the In-N-out when they drive into our beautiful West End.

    Comment by John P. (L) — July 9, 2013 @ 10:51 am

  13. Lauren,

    Actually the new formed based codes do dictate the types of uses for the Park Street Gateway. That was one of the main purpose of the plan. The plan dictates what uses, and where they are allowed. It was an opportunity to correct past mistakes.

    I’m concerend that because we don’t have a similar formed based code for Webster Street — there is not enough thought being given to the Gateway for Webster Street.

    I was okay with the Safeway gas station — but I think we need to re-think In and Out. There must be another site we can do an In and Out; I just don’t believe this is the right site.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 9, 2013 @ 10:57 am

  14. The form based codes dictate building type and architecture, massing, etc. The zoning dictates usage. Other than establishing “residential” and “mixed use” and “open space” etc zones/districts there is no where that further limits the type of usage for retail other than what current Alameda ordinances already dictate.

    Comment by Lauren Do — July 9, 2013 @ 11:15 am

  15. Lauren, you are correct. It is the zoning that dictates the uses. The Park Street Gateway Plan has both form based codes and zoning changes for the various sub-districts. It dictates the various uses within each sub-district. We went through a similar exercise last night for Alameda Point.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 9, 2013 @ 11:32 am

  16. FYI – I don’t know if I am late to the game in posting this bit of news, but an October 13, 2013 Grand Opening date is noted on the website. The only problem is is that the link on the website is not active, yet.

    Comment by Doug Waite — July 9, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

  17. Thanks Doug! We knew there was an October opening, but no confirmed date. October 13th will be right in time for Halloween candy purchases.

    Comment by Lauren Do — July 9, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

  18. Post #9 & 10, you say why can’t we do better, and why should we be setting up new “low rent establishments” those are your words and your thoughts not mine. Seventy years I have been waiting for something good to happen in the West End. Now we get Target, Safeway, in-N-out, and a great new shopping center and you guy’s don’t want it. Well in this case I hope we get what I am in favor of, because it will be a great benefit to the West End. Remember land use should be for the greater good.

    Comment by John P. (L) — July 9, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

  19. You been waiting 70 years for a high faluting burger joint and a Target, and that’s supposed to make the west end some sort of nervana. Come on JPL, naming your stroll after you has warped your brain.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 9, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

  20. @18. Again, for the gazillionth time … the petition is not against the larger Alameda Landing. Please take the time to read it before jumping to erroneous conclusions.

    Re: low rent, guess where I got that phrase from?

    Comment by alameda — July 9, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

  21. Le petition

    Comment by alameda — July 9, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

  22. John P:

    Serious question, not being argumentative, but how will you feel with a boarded up Marina Village & Neptune, and more distress on the Webster strip? Will a Safeway and a good but preposterously overrated burger place seem worth waiting 7 decades for then?

    I have no crystal ball and am no expert on retail trends (if you knew what a sloppy dresser I am you’d know how little I know about retail) but I have a fair intuition of business trends, and that Spidey sense tells me that over-capacity and cannibalization will be the result of this. It’s really hard to see the positive in that.

    Comment by dave — July 9, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

  23. The building on High street “Jazzercice ” left some 10 years ago , the owner raise the rent to a point it was no longer possible for any business to remain there , it is now up to City hall to declare the building an eyes sore and deal accordingly , should the City had in place a taxation system for empty building , ie: tax them the same as if occupied , after one year vacancy , you bet you would see some business open , most would generate revenue .
    As Far as the In and Out Burger , it is certainly far better than the driving movie Theatre and Flea market which used to be Alameda entrance .
    Please find Me a single In and Out in the entire USA which does not generate positive cash flow I will cook an old fashion BBQ for anyone who has posted to this point .
    It is time to un-board these building any building is better than nothing , this also account for residential .

    Comment by mijoka — July 9, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

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