Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 22, 2016

50 shades of greige

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

In advance of the meeting tomorrow Wednesday night about the Central Avenue project which is being opposed by the West Alameda Business Association, there is a big mixed use project proposed for that one parking lot which used to be the site of the West End Farmer’s Market, but now will be housing and retail.   From the staff report:

Dannan Development, a residential development company headquartered in Oakland, is requesting approvals to develop a three-story mixed-use development at 1435 Webster (at Taylor Avenue) in the West End of Alameda.  The building would consist of nine (9) residential units (including two affordable units), 4,700 square feet of ground floor commercial space facing Webster Street, and 18 off-street parking spaces behind the building.

They are, naturally, using the density bonus as a workaround Measure A.

This is the make up of the housing units:

  •  Two deed restricted moderate-income, approximately 1,100 square foot, two-bedroom, two-bath units.
  • Six market-rate, 1,100 to 1,350 square foot, two-bedroom, two-bath flats
  • One market-rate, 1,925 square foot, two-story, three-bedroom, two-bath flat.

And of course, some of the renderings.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.34.48 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.34.58 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.35.11 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.35.26 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.35.35 PM

I’m not super in love with the design, it’s very safe from an Alameda design aesthetic.  It’s bland and inoffensive which is what folks with typically tolerate.  It’s all very meh.  But I like the housing units, that gets a thumbs up in my books.  Street level retail and housing on top, it’s a great use of that space.  This spot would have been ideal for a car share  spot that could be used by the surrounding neighborhood as well.  The location is adequately served by the bus and if (knock on wood) the City Council moves forward with the Central Avenue project these residents would be well served as well by the new pedestrian and bike friendly infrastructure.



  1. Welcome to Emeryville.

    Comment by dave — February 22, 2016 @ 6:07 am

  2. Welcome to Emeryville *with ~15% less parking than required: “With 18 spaces, the project is three spaces short of the parking requirement for the project pursuant to the Alameda Parking Code, Section 30-7.”

    Clearly, this project assumes bus riders and bikers will be moving in. Hope so: “Section 30-7 does permit the Planning Board to approve the three space reduction if the project is designed to include transportation demand management strategies, such as the transit passes, to reduce on-site parking demand. Furthermore, the applicant has requested the reduction as a waiver from local development standards pursuant to the State and local Affordable Housing Density Bonus provisions (Exhibit 4).”

    Comment by 1435 Going Up — February 22, 2016 @ 7:02 am

  3. Yes let’s just keep it as an unused vacant lot with weeds and garbage blowing around it. That seems to suite the West End much better. I think I’ll just send this post to the planning board.

    Comment by John P. — February 22, 2016 @ 7:19 am

  4. The demand for housing is obvious, but the Webster Corridor already has a fair number of commercial vacancies. Adding new retail space seems a curious move.

    Comment by dave — February 22, 2016 @ 8:07 am

  5. I like it. There are only currently 2 empty store fronts that I am aware of the old bank which is for sale and the other one next to the tattoo place. Burger King which is becoming Peets. Marina Village also has some. Alameda Landing seems to be filling up. There are 9 units and 18 car spaces so I don’t see a problem with parking unless the parking lot is for the retail?

    Comment by joelsf — February 22, 2016 @ 8:51 am

  6. First impression: sharp angle boxes with small period piece hats on top and black balcony railings that stand out like football helmet faceguards. Take off the hat and you are in Emeryville

    Comment by MP — February 22, 2016 @ 9:05 am

  7. Much better than what is there now, but it would be nice if they picked up some architectural details from the surrounding buildings.

    Comment by notadave — February 22, 2016 @ 9:22 am

  8. Another racket by the Alameda Bicycle Lobby and their pet council members Marilyn AshFraud and Frank Malfeasance to replace PERFECTLY FINE parking lots with housing for POOR PEOPLE.

    Comment by Rodney — February 22, 2016 @ 9:42 am

  9. The flat-roof design is ugly and does not fit in with the existing buildings on that block, but I guess it could be worse. As for vacant storefronts, there are currently five between Central and Lincoln. Or six, if you include the perpetually “still coming…” Greek place that may never open up.

    Comment by Kristen — February 22, 2016 @ 9:46 am

  10. Any vacancies remaining at Neptune or Marina Village?

    Comment by dave — February 22, 2016 @ 10:30 am

  11. Webster Street is on a nice roll. I like it — although I would prefer something more modern. As far as retail, Webster Street could use more restaurants, coffee shops, and artsy shops. Oakland opened 300 new restaurants in the last three years!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 22, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

  12. I would personally like something like Tully’s to open up again…the food wasn’t great…but it was a good place for cheap fast brunch on the weekends…but that probably won’t happen. Does anyone know what is going on with the old Frosty’s? Just no more pizza places. Park Street has just as many vacancies…the dog bone alley is closing and Capone’s closed.

    It sort of fits in with much of Webster Street. You have the retirement home or what ever it is next to Alameda Kitchen, and the orange hotel across the street, and Day’s end. The Citybank building which is for sale, the dollar store which looks like it use to be a Autoparts store, Subway building, the old sizzler building…no matter what you build some people won’t like it…taste is objective. Not everyone likes Bay Street in Emeryville, but I do. I also think they did an excellent job on Alameda Landing although Target is a little out of scale. People didn’t like Bayport at first, but now the trees are larger…I prefer Bayport over the houses in the Southshore/Otis area. Alameda has a diversity of people with diverse taste which is partially what makes Alameda special.

    Kristen, are you sure there are 5. I can only think of the 2 unless you count that little tiny pink candy place which is so small you shouldn’t count it. The Greek place will probably open…it just takes forever for anything to open in Alameda.

    Comment by joelsf — February 22, 2016 @ 3:46 pm

  13. O.K. those of you who have things you don’t like about the architecture of the new project, need to go to the planning board meeting and speak. If you have a better design tell them. comment #4 Dave perhaps a nice walk down Webster St. would show you that their are not very many vacancies, and that empty lot has been like that for many years.

    Comment by John P. — February 22, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

  14. Although the Planning Board seems very likely to approve this, one can hope they’ll force some improvements before approval. Since it is clear that Planning Board members read and comment semi-regularly on this blog, posting questions or concerns here isn’t a terrible idea for people who can’t make it to a meeting to speak.

    The choices for this space aren’t limited to only (a) doing nothing so there is still “an unused vacant lot with weeds and garbage” and (b) the current plan for a massive building that will TOWER over and be out of scale with that part of Webster and that would also have inadequate parking for the various retail spots plus nine residences all crammed onto that lot. For instance, if the plan were changed to have a couple fewer units so the building height would be more in line with that stretch of Webster, sufficient parking for a mixed use spot for retail and residential, and some aesthetic improvements like those suggested here, although that would of course make the developer less money than the huge mass currently proposed, it would be much better since it would move this from the realm of meh/yuck to becoming a nice addition to Webster.

    Comment by 1435 Going Up — February 22, 2016 @ 4:30 pm

  15. 3 stories are within the height limit for Webster right? so I don’t think that scale is an argument the PB is likely to heed. Parking , maybe but if units get spaces then retail will have to be absorbed by surrounding area, “just” 3 spaces. Not saying I advocate this as solution, just ticking off the list. The money is a huge deal. Are you suggesting the developer cut back by 25% or more? Unfortunately money is behind everything which gets built. I’m suspicious of the poor quality of these drawings and that the actual building will look worse. I’d prefer the developer have maximum dollars to work with when PB holds them to higher standard to improve the detailing and quality of facade rather than to trying to whittle away their profit margin. Reality is if you want it both ways you may end up with some real garbage.

    Comment by MI — February 22, 2016 @ 6:02 pm

  16. All fair points in 15.

    Not suggesting three stories is prohibited, just looked at the second drawing above (and looked at the actual site earlier today) and compared sides of the street. It seems Nations side v new building side are way out of balance, as are Calafia and Fireside part of the block v new building, as are Santos block next door v new building, as are residences going down Taylor there v new building.

    Also wonder whether something this out of proportion to the surrounding area would be permitted around Park St or anywhere else in Alameda other than Webster Maybe. Maybe not. “At least it isn’t a vacant lot with weeds and garbage so be thankful for whatever you get, Webster St” as John P seemed to be saying is not a persuasive defense of the project as planned.

    Hope this works out. It would be nice if it did.

    Comment by 1435 Going Up — February 22, 2016 @ 6:11 pm

  17. “1435 going up”, I don’t agree with you…it isn’t out of scale with that part of Webster. The parking depends on the type of retail stores. High volume discount stores you need more parking…but most of Webster street retail depends on street parking. Most of the people who shop there are people who take public transportation or walk.

    Comment by joelsf — February 22, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

  18. If you actually look at the architecture of the building it has many of similar things that the light green building on the corner of Webster and Lincoln which has the middle eastern grocery store and 2 hair cutting places and the restaurant (don’t remember the name) look at the eves and the windows…very similar just 100 years newer. Santos building was falling apart a few years ago, the Nation’s building is butt ugly. Fireside nothing special. This building you can easily put solar panels on the roof while some of the older buildings not so much. “We should actually tear down all those condos at the end of Webster and rebuild Neptune Beach.” My favorite house in Alameda is 1617 Central….but I don’t have the millions to restore it…if I did I would and buy the Apartments next to it and tear them down.

    People tend to think developers make a ton of money on these projects but if they make a 10%-20% return they are doing good. They take all the risks, pay their employees, subcontractors, architects, arrange financing ect…if you worked for one you sometimes realize they loose money. Warmington who built the housing at Bayport went bankrupt…probably not over Bayport but other developments.

    Comment by joelsf — February 22, 2016 @ 8:07 pm

  19. Whatever “people” may tend to think about developers in general, the issues in this case are not about developers in general.

    The issues here involve how much the developer in this case would likely be making on this particular project at 1435 Webster under the proposed plan (that the City that can approve or not approve, as is or with changes) and whether the public that the City serves would be better served by any number of possible changes to this plan. Obviously, if a project isn’t likely to generate a return sufficient to offset the perceived costs and risks, a profit-driven developer isn’t likely to undertake it. It is very hard to believe this current plan is exactly at the margin where any of the possible changes in the comments above would make the return insufficient and so would kill the project.

    A project on Webster should be subject to just as much scrutiny and be subject to just as much analysis regarding possible changes as a project anywhere else.

    Comment by 1435 Going Up — February 22, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

  20. 13

    John P: I lived less than 100 yards from that parking lot for several years, I know the area.

    And Webster is indeed on the upswing and there are fewer vacancies than in the past. That is positive, obviously. Buildings are much better maintained, and better looking, than just a few years ago. Also positive.

    But the Webster corridor has a long history of struggling & high turnover of businesses. A retail store front is a very hard business to last long in. The area has seen a major increase in storefronts (Landing) with only a small increase in population. Adding new street retail into that situation may be a stretch.

    Comment by dave — February 23, 2016 @ 7:08 am

  21. A yogurt shop, a bakery, quality restaurants (Cafe Jolie and Crolls is almost always packed), a coffee shop — there’s plenty of room for more. What makes Webster a draw is that it is walkable and hopefully one day bicycle friendly. Webster has great potential and we’re just beginning!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 23, 2016 @ 7:23 am

  22. First, time I’ve ever heard Webster St. called a “corridor”. Real Websterites don’t like that kind of uppity moniker attached to their street. It’s like throwing stones in their passway.

    Comment by jack — February 23, 2016 @ 11:46 am

  23. A developer isn’t going to put residential at street level, so they need it in order to stack the apartments ( $$$) on top, otherwise I’m sure there are developers who don’t care as long as they get a return on investment. Park Street has plenty of poorly conceived businesses (even in it’s most happening block ,1300) which come and go. Viability is more about the individual business, though some blocks are better than others.

    I don’t think it requires materials like brick, but the buildings below Lincoln on Park ( Wallgreen’s etc.) set a sort of standard for quality and I’d hope that Planning Board members who understand this well will try to push for that. The drawings look a bit like the buildings at Southshore which are a huge improvement over previous mall and are contiguous, but otherwise fall a bit below where I’d like to see the bar set. I wish I had a better understanding of the building elements myself, but even as a builder I don’t . My hunch is about the quality of the various details like trellis and corbel being cheap and slapped on rather than being well integrated. The windows are also something you can’t judge by the drawing, but really cheap ones stick out like sore thumbs. Ask yourselves, what are the differences between the new brick building with Thai restaurant and those just south along the newly renovated block of Park ( Wall green’s etc.). The building with Thai restaurant IS brick but the architecture is a missed opportunity. If the building line of the corbels effects the net size of the building they may have kept them smaller than might be aesthetically pleasing so they won’t steal valuable interior space. Here I am talking about the offset between the roof line at the every top and the wall line of the building itself. The same with balconies and trellis. If they are skimpy doodads which are added on and not well integrated it has an impact. Six extra inches can make a huge difference in terms of visual weight added to eaves, but rinky dink “gingerbread” looks like what it is. Beware.

    Comment by MI — February 23, 2016 @ 11:56 am

  24. If you look back at 19th century photos of Webster and Park Streets, the buildings lined along the street were tall, upright, several story affairs overlooking bustling street full of people, street cars, horses etc. Seems appropriate to me

    Comment by Laura Thomas — February 24, 2016 @ 3:09 pm

  25. Is the drawing on the front page of the Sun toady for this same project? It is substantially different.

    Comment by MI — February 25, 2016 @ 9:28 am

  26. Yes, the front page of yesterday’s Sun had a story about this project. Today’s Alameda Journal also has a story with some additional information and some reporting on what happened at the Planning Board:

    Comment by 1435 Going Up — February 26, 2016 @ 6:02 am

  27. It really doesn’t have to do with this developments, but Webster Street. It appears the new Peets Coffee will open any day now. It will have a drive through which could make it interesting.

    Comment by joelsf — April 4, 2016 @ 5:49 pm

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