On April 18, the city council will meet in closed session to negotiate four property leases at Alameda Point. Two are for buildings, and two are at a pier. It is unknown if either of the two proposed building leases will include the option to purchase. Nor is it known if the city council has weighed selling rather than leasing the two buildings and how it fits in with the goal of replacing antiquated infrastructure.
City staff and the council will be negotiating a lease with an Oakland company called Pyka, which makes drone airplanes designed for spraying pesticides on agricultural crops in Costa Rica and elsewhere. Their pesticide-spraying aircraft is called “Pelican Spray”. The pilotless plane was recently approved by the Costa Rican government for flying in Costa Rica to spray large commercial banana plantations, both day and night.
During its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 7, City Council will hold a work session to discuss the pros and cons of leasing versus selling buildings at Alameda Point in the area designated for repurposing old buildings for reuse.
The designated Reuse Area is a large swath of real estate extending from the aircraft hangars to Main Street near the ferry terminal. The work session was spawned by the Council expressing concern that it had no policy guidance upon which to make decisions on whether to lease a building or sell it.
The Alameda Point waterfront that was once full of ships is looking different.
In mid-July, the last of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force of ships left Alameda Point for new berths. The fleet, owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation, left Alameda because of the costs associated with dredging the channel. MARAD ships are on-call for transporting military supplies and providing humanitarian relief.
City staff will be seeking direction from the City Council in the near future on how to proceed with tapping the revenue potential at the vacant piers. Staff will also be seeking funding to repair severely deteriorated concrete support piles under Pier 2 and other deferred pier maintenance.
Replacing the antiquated underground infrastructure at Alameda Point will be accomplished slowly through the sale of parcels owned by the city.
One major infrastructure project is now underway and is expected to take two and half years to complete. This $31 million contract was awarded to A&B Construction in March 2022 and covers seven blocks through the heart of the former Navy base. The streets around two of the blocks will receive a deluxe upgrade to what is termed a “complete street.” This means that in addition to new underground utilities, storm water lines, and sewer lines, there will also be a natural filtration system for storm water runoff, bike lanes, transit stops, street lighting, and full landscaping. The other nearby blocks will only receive new water lines due to lack of funding.
An amendment to the California Surplus Lands Act that went into effect in January 2020 brought long-term leasing and land sales at Alameda Point to a screeching halt for two years. The new law mandated that no government-owned land could be sold, or leased for more than a year, without first offering the land to affordable housing providers on a state clearinghouse. After the city listed six initial sites on the clearinghouse, the process ended in January 2022 without yielding one single unit of additional housing of any type.
In an effort to remedy the flawed law, Assembly Member Mia Bonta has introduced legislation to exempt Alameda Point from the process, citing the agreement with the Navy to follow the community base reuse plan. Under the current process, it forces Alameda to entertain ad hoc changes, such as offering to place housing in job-generating commercial zones. The Community Reuse Plan for Alameda Point adopted in 1996 spells out the types of uses for all of the areas, and the Navy has been conducting environmental cleanup based on those agreed-upon uses.
Everything is looking up at Alameda Point rocket manufacturer Astra. Contracts to launch small satellites are up, partnerships are up, and capital investments in the company are up. And now the company is ready to expand its facility.
Astra is headquartered at 1900 Skyhawk Street in Building 360, next to the Main Street Soccer Field. The building was formerly used for repairing jet engines and is still owned by the Navy due to groundwater contamination that is undergoing remediation. Astra renovated the southern portion of the building in 2018 and 2019 under a license agreement with the City of Alameda to begin manufacturing rockets. Its rocket engines are tested in a facility across the street that was formerly used by the Navy to test jet engines.
In April 2021, the company received the go-ahead from the Navy and regulators to finish renovating Building 360 to expand rocket production. On May 25, the city issued a building permit for the northern portion of the 180,000 square-foot building.
A new artisan bakery with a noble mission is coming to Alameda. Firebrand Artisan Breads of Oakland will be moving most of its production facilities to a renovated warehouse at Alameda Point in the coming months, bringing most of its 90 employees and hiring more.
Customers know this bakery by the taste of its gourmet baked goods and deli selections. Employees know this bakery by the taste of a life-changing opportunity for a good job. The company will employ up to 150 people striving to overcome employment barriers, such as previously being homeless and previously incarcerated. Continue reading “Artisan bakery bringing in the dough for social good”