The original 2006 plan for the parcel between Mitchell Avenue and the estuary, directly across from Jack London Square, called for an 8-acre waterfront park, 394,00 square feet of non-residential and employment uses, and 35,000 square feet of retail/service use.
Thomas Marshall, executive vice president for development for Catellus said that the market has moved away from commercial development. “We’re just not seeing office development happening,” he told the planning board.
Compounding matters, he said, Catellus anticipates about $90 million in infrastructure costs to shore up an old railway wharf on the estuary that was to underpin the waterfront park.
The developer’s opening bid with the planning board was to re-program the land to support 375 housing units, a 124 room hotel, and 25,000 square feet of retail, service, office and work space.
However, “we have one of the worst jobs/housing balances of cities in the Bay area,” city planner Andrew Thomas told the board, which drives more commute hour vehicle through the Webster and Posey tubes; a shift to residential development would aggravate that problem.
Nonetheless, Catellus officials don’t foresee waiting out the commercial market to make development of the parcel financially viable.
Mike Craft, who lives in the Marina Village area, told the planning board that he and his wife both work in San Francisco. He said he and his wife have been increasingly stuck in traffic coming back into Alameda at the end of the work day, since Alameda Landing was developed. Further, he asked that the board focus on fostering the creation of jobs that can afford the new housing being built. “Jobs where people could afford a million dollar house,” he said.
Board member Mike Henneberry was supportive of Catellus’ request while Kevin Mitchell was more cautious, and wanted public input on the change.
Overall, Andrew Thomas told Action Alameda News, the board’s direction was an in-between approach that mixed residential use with commercial. “I expect them [Catellus] to turn in a revised land use program for city consideration,” he wrote by e-mail.