On Point

Alameda is moving forward with the next phase of its Alameda Point housing plan—a project that could add up to 625 homes, bike paths, and a new park.


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The Main Street Neighborhood will include about 625 new homes.

Courtesy of the city of Alameda

Two decades ago, when Army and Navy bases began to shutter around the nation, Alameda looked like it was ahead of the curve. While other cities, including Oakland, were struggling with plans to redevelop old military facilities, Alameda quickly launched a proposal to build housing on the 1,560-acre former Naval Air Station, which closed in 1997, at Alameda Point. However, that plan, by Shea and Centex homes, unraveled in 2006. And a second housing plan—by Suncal—imploded in 2010.

Suddenly, Alameda had fallen behind other cities and their base redevelopment projects.

But that’s changed in the past few years with Alameda’s new multiphase plan at the Point. Last year, the city moved forward on its so-called Site A project, which will feature about 800 new homes, of which 200 will be affordable units. And the city is currently hammering out plans for its next phase at the Point—known as the Alameda Main Street Neighborhood project. It will feature up to 625 additional housing units of which at least 25 percent will be affordable, along with a new 3-acre park.

The mixed-use 108-acre Main Street project is slated to feature single-family homes, townhomes, apartments, condos, and live-work spaces, ranging from two to four stories in height, along with extensive bike and pedestrian paths. The neighborhood is within short walking distance of the Alameda Main Street Ferry Terminal. “Really, what’s envisioned for this neighborhood is less about the car and more about pedestrian and transit-oriented development,” said Michelle Giles, Alameda’s redevelopment project manager. Giles gave a detailed presentation of the draft plan at the Nov. 1 city council meeting.

Courtesy of city of alameda

Located on the northeastern edge of Alameda Point, the Main Street Neighborhood borders Main Street and includes a historic district of homes—many of which were used as Navy officers’ quarters—that will be preserved, and in some cases, restored. The two-story homes in the district are known as the Big Whites.

A significant portion of the neighborhood is currently used by a consortium of social justice nonprofits, including Alameda Point Collaborative, Building Futures with Women and Children, and Operation Dignity. These nonprofits, which also serve formerly homeless veterans with PTSD, plan to relocate together to a 10-acre parcel within the neighborhood, known as the Collaborating Partners site. “In order to have any heart in this district, we need to have space for the Alameda Point Collaborative,” said Councilmember Jim Oddie.

Under the city’s draft proposal, the site will include up to 267 units of affordable housing. The Ploughshares Nursery also will run along Main Street within the neighborhood.

The city’s plan also includes a 3.3-acre central park, featuring trees, grassy areas, event spaces, walking paths, picnic spots, a playground, a tot lot, and urban gardens. The neighborhood streets will be redesigned with bike lanes and pedestrian walkways. “It will promote pedestrian- and bike-friendly experiences,” Giles said. The city is also planning to “unbundle” parking from housing, meaning that residents who want parking spaces will have to pay extra for them. Studies show that unbundled parking reduces car use in urban areas. 

Jennifer Ott, director of Base Reuse and Transportation Planning, estimated that, in total, the infrastructure upgrades for the Main Street Neighborhood will cost roughly $53 million. The city also plans to raise the height of the neighborhood to protect it from flooding caused by sea level rise from climate change. Alameda officials plan to finance these upgrades and help subsidize the affordable housing through the sale of market-rate housing units in the neighborhood. Some city councilmembers, including Mayor Trish Spencer, also want to build workforce housing for Alamedans who can’t afford market-rate units but also don’t qualify for affordable housing—although adding more moderately priced housing will require additional public subsidies.

Giles said city planners plan to unveil a more detailed plan for the Main Street Neighborhood in December or January. Then once the council greenlights the plan, the city will put the project out for bid to developers. City officials hope the project will break ground in two to three years.

 

Published online on Dec. 7, 2016 at 8:00 a.m.

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