Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 12, 2013

Real housing units of Orange County

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Remember when former City Councilmember Frank Matarrese, former Mayor Beverly Johnson, and former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant all took a field trip to Southern California to visit the “Great Park” in Irvine.  The Great Park is the former El Toro base (airforce?) and went through a public auction process unlike Alameda Point.

It’s not clear because there was never a lot of follow through after the field trip — I forget if I ever checked if the City ended up footing the bill for this field trip or not, I don’t think I bothered — if the thing they liked about the Great Park was the whole “Central Park in the West” element, the non-profit development corporation element (whose Board was stacked with City Council members), or the low number of housing units that were planned.

The project largely stalled out because the huge amount of money ($200  million) that was seeded into the project by the developer (Lennar) who purchased the rights to build whatever they wanted to build, ran out.   In 2010, the number of units that Lennar — as FivePoint Communities — was allowed to build was 3600.   Today, the number has ballooned to 9500.   From the Voice of the OC:

Since voters approved the billion-dollar project in 2002, it has in many respects become a cautionary tale in the modern era of large-scale public works projects. Hundreds of millions have been poured into the project, with millions going for plans and to public relations consultants but with very little actual construction.

The centerpiece to the proposal is a 176-acre sports complex that is to include 12 ball fields, 24 tennis courts, 11 sand volleyball courts and up to 31 more sports and multiuse courts. This part of the plan drew dozens of residents, including sports boosters, players and coaches, to City Hall in support.

Also in the plan is a 45-acre bosque, 227-acre golf course, 178-acre wildlife corridor and a 35-acre canyon. Most of the planned amenities, with the exception of the wildlife corridor, could be built by 2017, according to a FivePoint presentation.

In exchange, FivePoint would have approval to build an additional 4,606 homes, bringing the total number of units to 9,500. In the coming weeks, the additional homes and the proposal to build the park will come before the council separately for final approvals.

This article allows me to segue — a little roughly but segue nonetheless — into this My Word which former City Councilmember Frank Matarrese had published last week.

Just to digress a bit, is it just me or is Frank Matarrese publishing op-eds everywhere these days?   Is anyone else getting the sinking feeling we’ll be seeing another Tony Daysog style resurrection of former City Council members again?

Anyway, apparently Frank Matarrese bought in to the whole “Town Center” name confusion thing.   Look, it was just a placeholder it is meaningless, they could have named it Hurdy Burdy Gurdy for all the meaning that it had.   The main point that Frank Mataresse is missing in his “jobs jobs jobs” mantra is that a lot of the big businesses that we want to lure will not come without a there, there which is what the Hurdy Burdy Gurdy is supposed to do.   Make a there, there at Alameda Point which will attract these awesome job creators that will provide these high paying jobs.

Look, here’s the thing, if Alameda really wants to be a huge job creator and attract a huge campus user it’s going to have to create a “there, there.”  Let’s be real, do you think Twitter and Zynga built their headquarters in San Francisco because they love overpaying for square footage?  Of course not.  It’s because they hire a bunch of young professionals who want the San Francisco experience after they spend hours and hours crunching code.   So no “there” no huge powerhouse company with lots of high paying jobs, that is what that “Town Center” is supposed to do, build that “there” to pave way for those businesses that people say they want.

If we don’t want the “town center” then we should just face the fact that Alameda will be and will always be a bedroom community and just own that instead of trying to say, “oh we don’t need any more housing” a la the Frank Matarrese piece.  There have been a lot of articles talking about the flight of families from San Francisco because of the high housing prices, so Alameda could opt to become the place where those folks land.

If we don’t want the housing or the “town center” then expecting someone like EBRPD to take over the whole shabang and pay to keep up the maintenance on the whole site is pretty pie in the sky.

Essentially, if I had to sum up Frank Matarrese’s My Word in one sentence it would be, “Don’t do anything because I don’t like anything anymore.”  Because nothing will be done if we decide that we don’t want to build the infrastructure to get the businesses there AND we don’t want housing.

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35 Comments

  1. I happen to like the town center idea as a marketing tool for attracting development capital. But the notion that lots of housing is a prerequisite to attract large employers is simply false. Yes, housing is a prerequisite if you plan to put in a restaurant or a boutique, but not necessarily for a large employer.

    Since Lauren last made fun of my use of the Devens, MA military base reuse example several years ago, a $750 million Bristol-Myers Squibb 89-acre biologics facility was completed at Devens. http://www.bms.com/sustainability/worldwide_facilities/north_america/Pages/devens_massachusetts.aspx I don’t know where all the employees live, but it isn’t in new housing at Devens because housing was never part of the reuse plan. Devens is 45 miles from Boston, in the middle of Massachusetts. The key to their success was the investment by the state in the infrastructure, not housing to pay for infrastructure. When Ft. Devens Army Base closed, Massachusetts lost jobs, not housing, and that’s what they focused on, and they have been successful.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — September 12, 2013 @ 7:04 am

  2. Most successful base conversions, have, like Devens, been commercially focused. Indeed Alameda could have taken possession of AP in ’97 had a commercially focused plan been pursued. Hosuing activists derailed that and remain the primary hurdle that keeps the base fallow.

    Comment by dave — September 12, 2013 @ 9:01 am

  3. “Hosuing activists derailed that and remain the primary hurdle that keeps the base fallow.” Wow, I don’t think I have ever read anything that was so blatantly false as that statement. I think we have reached new heights (lows) in altered reality here.

    By 1997 a community reuse plan was approved that focused on commercial use and diminished housing. The developers hired to carry out this commercially focused plan (APCP) demanded significant revisions to focus on housing, and negotiated a deal on behalf of the City with the Navy, to pay an outrageous amount so they could build more housing. Their timing was impeccable as they announced the deal with the Navy practically the same month housing prices took their first drop. FYI some of our former council members, who are now in the habit of opining negatively on housing at Alameda Point, were on the council that approved the amendments sought by APCP for more housing at Alameda Point.

    Comment by notadave — September 12, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  4. Last time we tried to get a job center (aka Cliff Bars), they wanted the City to pay for infrastructure/transportation/amenities, and it wasn’t going to be offset with property tax. That was when tax increment funding was still an option. To attract Twitter and Google, San Francisco provided tax incentives since they already had a “there there.” Don’t forget that jobs create A LOT of traffic.

    Comment by Alan — September 12, 2013 @ 10:03 am

  5. 3

    The city could have received the base at no cost in 1997 had it pursued a commercial-based plan, as most other base conversions have been done. The reason the city hired a housing focused developer was due to intense lobbying from housing activists. The developer attempted to increase the number of homes in order to make the project possible given the new price tag, which could be viewed as a penalty for deviating from the commercial paradigm.

    Sorry you don’t like it, but it is not false. Insistence on a housing-dominated plan is the reason the project was delyed so long.

    Comment by dave — September 12, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

  6. I am curious as to the documentation for your assertion in #5, Dave. Could you share your source and any documentation you might have for it?

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — September 12, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

  7. It really concerns me that we would have city leaders advocating “no town center” for Alameda Point.

    Alameda is sandwiched between two large cities that are both on the middle of major growth – both in jobs and population due to the migration of people back to the cities.
    As part of that growth, San Francisco is successfully expanding their transit centers to handle this growth. The San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project and the San Francisco Transbay Transit Terminal are both projects designed to facilitate current and future growth, and there are plans in the works for more. If Alameda is to take part in what’s happening around us, we need to stop playing small and make some important decisions.

    The Plan Bay Area initiative that was adopted in July of this year expands both housing and transportation and will help the Bay Area build a stronger economy. Big decisions are being made right now to determine which cities will get the transportation dollars from this initiative for a new Bart station or new Bart stations, and which cities will get Ferry Terminals, etc. – the winners will be in the position to attract jobs to their cities and their developments, and they will be prepared for the growth explosion that is already happening. The losers will sit on the sidelines and watch the other cities prosper.

    Included in the Alameda Point town center plan is a new transit center — a very important component that will help Alameda attract the kinds of jobs the Alameda Point plans call for, and it will allow Alameda to get their share of the transportation dollars to build new Ferry Terminals, a Bart station, etc.

    There is too much at stake to think small potatoes. We need to think big and LONG TERM.

    If not, we will lose our share of the transportation dollars to the cities that are willing to build the kind of developments that will help the Bay Area prosper.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 12, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  8. One comment on housing. . .

    Yes, we need a long term housing plan. The Alameda Point housing plan is a 20 – 30 year plan. Much like the regional transportation plan, it is a plan for the future that plans out to 2040 and beyond. Many of us won’t be here in 2040 or 2050, but like it or not migration to the Bay Area will continue as more and more people relocate to California and people move out of the suburbs back to the cities.

    The fact is that Alameda is also experiencing growth. Look at what happened at the schools: enrollment was up by 200 students and there was no plan for it. Burying our head in the sand and not preparing for the future won’t make it go away.

    The idea that we would shut down or reduce development at Alameda Point because we don’t want to plan for future housing is beyond me.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 12, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

  9. “The fact is that Alameda is also experiencing growth. Look at what happened at the schools: enrollment was up by 200 students and there was no plan for it. Burying our head in the sand and not preparing for the future won’t make it go away.”

    How many Students are now Attending School that don’t live in Alameda. I was told over a thousand and that number will continue to grow as Oakland keeps closing schools.

    Comment by In Reality — September 12, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

  10. Linking home and classroom, Oakland bets on community schools

    Sitting behind his desk at Fremont High School in Oakland, principal Daniel Hurst fiddled with a plastic cigar wrapper he had confiscated from a student. “They take the cigar paper and fill it with weed,” he said. Hurst knows Fremont’s problems well: he joined the school 28 years ago as a teacher. Two years ago, he said, a teacher was robbed at gunpoint before the first bell. “The school gets regularly burglarized,” he added. “Teachers’ cars get broken into. Laptops and cell phones get stolen.”

    Fremont’s campus in gang-entrenched East Oakland is just three blocks away from International Boulevard, famous for its booming sex trade. The school is known for abysmal test scores and low graduation rates. In the 2011-2012 school year, it had the most suspensions of any school in Oakland, according to school officials. Many local families have had enough. Of roughly 600 possible freshmen living in the neighborhood this year, only about 200 chose to attend Fremont. Even those who do register often leave. “There’s a perception of violence and safety issues and marijuana use,” said Nidya Baez, a Fremont grad who is now an administrator at the school. “We constantly have kids transferring out.”

    Fremont’s problems may be extreme but other schools in the Oakland Unified School District are suffering as well. Enrollment in traditional Oakland public schools has plummeted by more than 16,000 students since 2000, according to district officials, as foreclosures have forced families out of the city and charter schools have siphoned off students. During the same period, the district has cycled through six superintendents and narrowly avoided bankruptcy only through a state takeover that ended in 2009.

    Now, under growing public pressure to improve student safety and achievement, the district is attempting to reinvent itself by turning its 87 schools—including Fremont—into what are known as “full-service community schools,” equipped with staff trained to support students’ social, emotional and health needs as well as their academic growth.

    http://hechingerreport.org/content/linking-home-and-classroom-oakland-bets-on-community-schools_12357/

    Comment by In Reality — September 13, 2013 @ 12:00 am

  11. Like it or not, the region is going to run out of water if the “in-migration” continues. The region does not have the capacity for limitless population growth, regardless of what the bureaucratic projections may say.

    Like it or not, we live on an island with limited access, not in San Francisco (or Portland or Tokyo).

    Like it or not, the base is on fill, and the roads leading to it are on fill, and the tube is on fill and the notion that all of this can be ignored for the sake of blind development ambition makes no sense.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — September 13, 2013 @ 12:54 am

  12. 6

    Here one bit of documentation:

    In June 2000, the Navy and ARRA executed a No-Cost Economic Development Conveyance Memorandum of Agreement (EDC MOA) in accordance with amendments to the Federal Base Closure Act. Those amendments were designed to aid communities adjacent to closing military installations recover from the closure by allowing the local redevelopment authority to acquire the surplus federal property at “no-cost” in exchange for generating jobs at the closed installation. In order to qualify for such a “no-cost” conveyance, the LRA was required to prepare and support a reuse plan that favored job-generating activities over other land uses such as residential development. In order to recover from the closure of NAS Alameda, and to qualify for the “no-cost” Economic Development Conveyance, the ARRA’s 1998 EDC application made certain development assumptions that favored job-generating activities (such as commercial development) over residential uses. In the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act, the no-cost EDCs were again made pennissive, and in subsequent legislation, Congress required the Defense Department to seek fair market value for all closed military property closed after January 2005.

    more here: https://laurendo.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/no-cost-no-way-2/#more-6177

    Plus the “no-cost for commercial” was explicitly and specifically confirmed to me by a well known local density advocate. I will name that party & copy the email in which that person does so if he/she allows it.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2013 @ 6:09 am

  13. Dave, I’m having a hard time understanding what exactly is your issue. The Alameda Point plan is a jobs plan — but jobs create traffic just as housing does. What I’m saying is that we are part of the Bay Area region which is planning for current and future growth. If you want to argue whether Alameda is growing or not — is a different subject, but we’re located right smack in the middle of one of the fastest growing regions.

    We can choose to either be part of the region or not. But it would be a grave mistake to choose not to be part of region because we’re afraid of change! The smart thing to do is get in front of it and PLAN for it.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 13, 2013 @ 7:34 am

  14. RB brought up Devens as a successful conversion. He’s right, it is. My point is that Alameda has not followed that path due primarily to housing & density activists’ insistence on a housing dominated plan. Pursuing a Devens-style plan would have had us much farther along and much more successful than what we have now. That is all.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2013 @ 7:43 am

  15. Darcy — the fact is that Alameda is known for our good schools and people are moving here for that reason. It should be no surprise that we would start to see increases in student enrollment.

    I can understand your fears. One of the reasons I moved to Alameda 35 years ago is because of the quality of life and the good schools, and I would be upset to think we’re losing that. But people are moving here from all areas of the country for various reasons. They heard about our good schools, and our warm weather, and they are taking the ferry to work. I know because I take the ferry to work and I’m seeing a huge increase in ridership. I sat on the boat last week with two people who relocated to Alameda from back east and I asked them what brought them to Alameda.

    These people have good paying jobs and they are bringing their children here because they heard that Alameda is a family town. So your fears are short sided if you’re just fixated on Oakland.

    The Alameda Point development is a tremendous opportunity to plan for and expand our transportation options for current and future growth. Just saying!

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 13, 2013 @ 7:53 am

  16. And Dave – we’re not Massachusetts. We’re smack in the middle of one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and they have just approved a regional plan to prepare for that growth. We need to stop burying our head in the sand and become part of the region.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 13, 2013 @ 7:57 am

  17. 10. your strip and paste about Fremont has a point, at least in your mind? your strip and paste habit and constant name change don’t really serve continuity in a dialogue of any meaning. Our students have priority over cross enrollments from out of district, but we do get get state ADA for each student no matter where they live. There is a balance in terms of the money we need to efficiently maintain ratios of cost for things like infrastructure and administration and I personally trust the district where they draw those lines. Constant carping about “out of district” is red herring, xenophobic BS to appeal to small town/mind mentality. Just as relevant for you to strip and paste article about the UN being left wing conspiracy to take over the planet.

    Comment by MI — September 13, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  18. Darcy, like it or not, we were once a peninsula and when you think about the sheer size of SF peninsula, San Francisco might as well be an island. It is accessed about 5 bridges is you include San Rafael as access from Easy Bay.

    Like it or not the world population and regional populations are growing and scarcity of resources isn’t going to change that. Seems like efficiency and conservation are easier to maintain in concentrated populations than spread out like Contra Costa. Soil and sea level are another matter.

    Comment by MI — September 13, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  19. #12: I think you’re conflating two issues. You’re correct that the addition of housing to the original re-use plan resulted in APCP negotiating a deal with the Navy that had that developer paying $108 million for the rights to develop the base. That cost became a hurdle, but….

    Infrastructure costs are why housing was proposed, not housing advocates. Housing advocates got a 25% affordable housing agreement (Devens has the same), they didn’t require how much housing. That was the market and the developers who needed to find a way to finance the infrastructure. It was literally the market driving the development of the base. SunCal had more housing because their infrastructure numbers (which were higher than the city’s new numbers) said that more housing was needed to pay for it. Again, not housing advocates, the market.

    Devens’ infrastructure was funded by the state (essentially redevelopment) over $200 million in bonds. The state continues to put money into the property, which is only 1/2 built, plans for up to 2400 housing units (25% affordable) and provides a training ground for 30,000 reservists a year and commercial space that employs 3,200. (Alameda Point is at 1,000 right now).

    It takes money to develop infrastructure to attract commercial development. So far every developer (commercial or otherwise, including LBNL and others) has asked the city “where’s the housing going to be?” Not because the housing is a concerned, but because they see it as a necessity for a successful development.

    If there is to be development at the Point (opinions vary), how to pay for it is important. If it’s not going to be funded by housing or public funds, what’s the plan? Alameda already has multiple entitled commercial developments that are struggling to move forward (HB, Alameda Landing, Marina Village). Pointing to a single military base, that has significantly different characteristics is not compelling, it looks more like the exception that proves the rule.

    If we want a no housing, no public funds development solution, start levelling the buildings and bring on the shipping container storage, cause that’s about all you’re going to get. Current leases pay for their current maintenance costs, they don’t come anywhere near covering the needed infrastructure rebuild of roads, sewers, utilities.

    We can’t ignore the economics of development in this discussion.

    Comment by jkw — September 13, 2013 @ 9:32 am

  20. The problem with former Council member Matarrese’s proposal is that no one wants to work in a barren 1970s-era office park like the Marina Village and hundreds of its early Silicon Valley cousins: you have to provide diverse, attractive, mixed-use urban environments–as San Francisco does for Twitter and Salesforce–that feature good places to eat, enjoy art, shop, and offer other urban services within walking or bicycling distance.

    Just like Webster Street and Park Street, in fact.

    Many of the young high-tech workers we hope to attract to AP consider it a huge advantage to be able to walk or bike to work, so the housing is a critical feature in attracting the companies (like Clif Bar, which wanted to relocate to Alameda) that will offer the most sustainable and stimulating jobs for the long haul.

    Housing, commercial, retail, and business developments should be blended together like the rest of the main island at AP.

    5: dave’s assertion is false that ” Insistence on a housing-dominated plan” was the problem with previous development plans. In fact, Alameda Point Community Partners (APCP) pulled out of AP because they could not make enough money building under 2000 single-family homes at AP.

    Had APCP been able to build more housing–say, 3000 or 4000 units, including multifamily units–they might not have pulled out. Suncal’s economic model was also based on building more housing than is allowable at AP now, and I predict that the city’s current plans will not be economically sustainable for the very same reason. The “jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra does not work, because you have to balance jobs with housing. 1700 housing units at AP will not achieve the needed balance, but 3000 might…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — September 13, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  21. I do not think LBNL asked “where’s the housing going to be” b/c they saw it as a “necessity for successful development”. They probably wanted to be able to give housing a wide berth, so as not to affect it by their activities. Remember, they built the Radiation Lab up on The Hill, away from population density.

    Commercial development in Alameda will always be limited by lack of freeway access. No amount of money will cure this fact. I am continually surprised that this fact is not acknowledged more often in these discussions.

    Comment by vigi — September 13, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  22. 19:

    First, thank you for the minor vindication: the insistence on housing is what prevented the no-cost transfer.

    Second, the city rejected the no-cost deal and then turned negotiations over to APCP. I submit that the reason the city rejected the commercial plan was the influence of housing & density activists.

    Third, Devens is not sui generis nor the “exception that proves the rule.” I certainly don’t have knowledge of every base transfer but I have handled financing for a few of them and colleagues have done many more, and while none are Beverly Hills, they are a helluva lot more successful than ours. A primary reason (though of course not the only one) is that they didn’t try to subvert the paradigm.

    Fourth and last, the claim that only container storage is viable strains credulity. Free land that the Navy pays to clean up is worth a lot. Exactly how much I can’t guess but it’s a least a few yards. An asset that valuable can be developed profitably & successfully if realists are in charge.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  23. Free land with no infrastructure. We can’t even fill our commercial land that has infrastructure.

    Your knowledge of the APCP process is low if you think that housing density advocates caused them to build housing. Housing advocates and sustainable communities advocates rejected the APCP plan. Read the plan. The final pages say that the community (not just “housing advocates”) wanted a different design, and that future planning should look at a different configuration. It was anti-housing members of the city council, specifically Barbara Kerr, who ensured that the APCP plan built as little housing as possible, and in the end, even with redevelopment, the developer couldn’t make it pencil and got out.

    Rather than argue past actions, and broad statements that you think things strain credulity, what’s your proposal for developing a viable, financially-neutral-to-the-city commercial development at Alameda Point, a place that has $600 million in short-term infrastructure needs.

    Comment by jkw — September 13, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

  24. Timeline.

    APCP’s plan was flawed, yes. As was Suncal’s (which I note parenthetically you voted for). But the reason these developers stepped in was because the city rejected a commercial plan with a zero-cost transfer. A commercial-based plan without the 9 figure land cost could have been successful, but because it didn’t square with the Density Dream it was scotched. THEN came the flawed developers & their flawed plans.

    That rejection and the subsequent 108MM price from the Navy as a result of the new housing dominated plan has been one of the main reasons the place remains stalled. Full stop. That’s all I said. It’s true.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

  25. Rather than argue past actions, and broad statements that you think things strain credulity, what’s your proposal for developing a viable, financially-neutral-to-the-city commercial development at Alameda Point, a place that has $600 million in short-term infrastructure needs.

    ————————————————————————————–

    1) Accept the reality that it won’t be your Calthorpian Dream.

    2) Sell it for a dollar to any developer who can demonstrate the financial strength to build the infrastructure.

    3) Collect property & other taxes from new projects.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  26. 2) Sell it for a dollar to any developer who can demonstrate the financial strength to build the infrastructure.

    You mean a commercial developer or any developer? Because the only developers that I have seen willing to take on a parcel of land and deal with the cleanup and the infrastructure issues are housing developers. Devens — your example — was “purchased” by a quasi-governmental agency in order to build the idyllic commercial wonderland. So, not some private developer with deep pockets and a love for commercial. I’ll point out that Devens isn’t even a real town and has no municipal government, it’s sort of run by the development company right now which is pretty weird.

    Anyway, recently private developers like Lennar as FivePoints Communities have offered to build infrastructure only in exchange for building more housing. Another example is SunCal who is developing the Dublin Army Reserve Base. The problem is people say they want to leave it to the free market to decide on what is the best and highest use of the land, but then don’t want x, y, or z to come in.

    I’ll point out that nothing — nothing — precluded a commercial developer to approach the City since the Navy moved out to build a Devens type model. In fact, I think City leaders would have squeeed in excitement had that been the case.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 13, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

  27. 1. Done

    2. you have already stated your expertise in putting together deals to fund large scale commercial development projects, so how is that going to happen? I’m on board with #2, the million dollar question, which you appear to be avoiding furiously, is what is the financing program (that has no public funds and no housing) going to look like to meet the criteria “who can demonstrate the financial strength to build the infrastructure.”

    3. yes

    Comment by jkw — September 13, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

  28. 26

    I’m fine with housing. Also fine with commercial. I don’t have an especially strong preference for what gets built there as long as the tube traffic is manageable. The housing problem I have mentioned wasn’t because it was housing, it was because changing to a housing plan sent the price way up and put the place on ice. Hell I wouldn’t care if Suncal came back as long as they stayed out of politics.

    A nit-picky point about Devens: it wasn’t my example, it was Bangert’s. I simply stated that it was a success because they stayed within the Federal model and thus have something to show for it.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

  29. 27

    “Furiously avoiding”??? Have you ever known me to shrink from a controversy?

    I do not state specifically for several reasons, among them:

    -I don’t know what the land is worth as commercial or residential. LTV is a critical number here. I do feel comfortable stating that land is worth a least a few yards, as I think anyone would agree, but 2 billion is one thing, 5 is quite another.

    -I don’t know when cleanup is due to be completed though I’m sure Richard could tell us if he’s watching.

    -The amount & structure of that deal varies widely with the plan. A container yard would require much less and could be done with a larger debt component than the mixed use dream that would require an almost 100% equity deal. A 1.20 debt coverage would likely work with containers, for example, while residential would require 1.60 or so plus a significant equity tranche. I don’t do equity deals so cannot comment on that.

    -While I assume most of the existing infrastructure needs to be scrapped, if some can be retained or reused that can really help. Again, perhaps Richard has a thought.

    There is a lot of flexibility in this discussion, from my POV at any rate, because I don’t especially care how the place is developed as long as it doesn’t impair the quality of life for the rest of the city. Containers, mansions, armadillo ranch, office park, or sausage plant, I’m pretty wide open, and each possible use has a different financing scheme.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

  30. I think the plan the City has put forth is a great start — it’s a community plan. But the issue as JKW has stated is how do we pay for it?

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 13, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  31. 26 Lauren, there you go again, dissing Devens with a “complimentary” pejorative by saying they are trying “to build the idyllic commercial wonderland,” as if they are fools chasing a mirage. They’ve built something, we haven’t. Who are the smart people?

    You go on to dismiss the pursuit of commercial development by saying nothing “precluded a commercial developer to approach the City since the Navy moved out to build a Devens type model….” It’s not likely any developer would have proposed a Devens model simply because the message from the community and the reuse plan guiding development said just the opposite. The closest we came was the United World Infrastructure development proposal when we sought a new master developer in 2006. They were highly focused on the “job campus” theme while still incorporating residential. Maybe we should call them up.

    Just to go back to what I said in the opening comment, a significantly higher housing number, say 4,000, is not a prerequisite for success. And while its easy to say the Devens model is not instructive because “it’s just one example,” I am still waiting (as I have been since SunCal’s Measure B ignited controversy) for someone to identify one single closed military base where an idyllic residential wonderland has been successfully created. The closest that I have come up with is at the former Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. That base closed two years before NAS-Alameda, and they are apparently successful. If you don’t like Devens, study Ft. Harrison: http://www.fhra.org/about/home/default.aspx We need a successful model, not paper pie in the sky.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — September 13, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

  32. Richard, if we had landed LBNL, we would have a similar situation at Alameda Point, but we didn’t. And the VA project as you mentioned, is a few years down the road and it willl not put a dent in the $600m cost of infrastructure. With redevelopment gone — we need both public and private investment which means housing will help fund the cost of infrastructure at Alameda Point. If you look at he Alameda Landing, and the Harbor Bay model — both projects used housing to help fund the cost of infrastructure.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with commercial — but it takes much longer to absorb. Look at how long it’s taken Harbor Bay Business Park to fill their vacancies. But what makes Harbor Bay valuable is that the backbone infrastructure is in place (thanks to the housing that was built) – so a commercial developer can step in and build a turnkey project in a reasonable amount of time. Hence the reason they were able to attract VF Outdoors.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 13, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

  33. I think there are less people clamoring for residential only than commercial only. Homes become an issue because that’s what people disagree on (number, density, etc.). No one ever talks about commercial because no one disagrees that there should be some level of commercial at Alameda Point.

    I typed “successful base redevelopment” into Google and this report popped up . Lots of case studies, but what I found interesting was the side bar on Devens, when they asked the former redevelopment director what they did wrong, this was one of his answers:

    Out of fear of the impact on municipal budgets we brushed aside nearly all of the strongest market and quickest path to economic recovery—residential development.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 13, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  34. 33. Lauren, Thanks for finding that study. When the former Devens redevelopment director says “we brushed aside…residential development,” he was referring to the reuse authority made up of representatives of the surrounding three towns – as in little towns. It was those surrounding communities that really vetoed the residential emphasis. It was their municipal budgets (plural) that he was referring to when he said they feared the impact. The funny thing about it is that here in Alameda we would be fine with 1,500 or so new homes, but have an inadequate transportation network leading out of town. At Devens, there’s two highways going by on either side that connect to the Interstate a few miles away – with few, if any, stoplights along the way.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — September 13, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

  35. #27 “There is a lot of flexibility in this discussion, from my POV at any rate, because I don’t especially care how the place is developed as long as it doesn’t impair the quality of life for the rest of the city…”

    Shared by 99.9% of the rest of us!

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 13, 2013 @ 7:32 pm


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