Rocket manufacturing coming to Alameda Point

Alameda Point has specialty craft breweries and distilleries.   Coming soon – craft rockets.  Startup company Astra Space hopes to sell its economy-sized rockets to any entity wanting to launch its own small satellite into low earth orbit.

On April 22, the city council and members of the public got a tour of its nearly completed production facility prior to a special meeting of the council.  The meeting was billed as a recommendation to authorize the city’s commercial real estate broker Cushman and Wakefield to market a 24-acre industrial area in the commercial Enterprise District to businesses and developers.  But because Cushman and Wakefield had already been authorized to market the area at least twice since 2015, the real reason for the tour and meeting was to showcase a shifting strategy for the district that will now include adaptively reusing some existing buildings, rather than tearing everything down as previously envisioned. Continue reading “Rocket manufacturing coming to Alameda Point”

Nuclear research coming to Alameda Point historic district

Tenant plans to design next-generation nuclear power plant

The underground infrastructure at Alameda Point may be old and in need of replacement, but many of the Navy’s industrial and civic buildings were built to last centuries.  One of those buildings is Building 9, a former records warehouse on West Tower Avenue right across the street from the Bladium that is rock solid and worth rehabbing.

According to developer Joe Ernst of srmErnst, the horizontal alignment of the steel superstructure has moved a mere 1.2 inches in the 77 years since it was built.  “And for all we know, it could have been off by an inch when it was built,” said Ernst.

Building 9 at 707 West Tower Avenue undergoing $24 million renovation project.

The hangar-like structure is being readied for the first tenant, Kairos Power.  Kairos will set up a laboratory to test components that will make up a new type of nuclear reactor.  No radioactive material will be handled there.  In fact, Ernst says it’s spelled out in the deed.

Continue reading “Nuclear research coming to Alameda Point historic district”

Housing limit under review

Part of the vacant military housing near Alameda Landing, formerly known as North Housing, fetched a winning auction bid of $38 million.

In order to complete the sale, the current “government” zoning designation must be removed.  At the same time, the city recommends removing the government zoning from two adjacent parcels that will soon be transferred to the Alameda Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity.  The residential, multifamily zoning will remain intact. Continue reading “Housing limit under review”

Dining on the farm at Alameda Point

The Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) served up gourmet meals at their annual Urban Farm Table fundraising event on Sunday, May 15, 2016. About 100 guests were seated under a canopy squarely in the middle of crops growing on the Alameda Point farm.

Keynote speaker Matthew Dolan, executive chef at Twenty Five Lusk in San Francisco, spoke at the Urban Farm Table fundraiser for the Alameda Point Collaborative.
Keynote speaker Matthew Dolan, executive chef at Twenty Five Lusk in San Francisco, spoke at the Urban Farm Table fundraiser for the Alameda Point Collaborative.

This year’s menu was again created by Jeff Rosen, executive chef at Blue Heron Catering of Oakland. Some of the salad and entrée ingredients, such as arugula, strawberries and onions, were grown within a few steps of the table.

APC is the largest supportive housing provider for homeless families in Alameda County. Adults in the community can acquire new job skills and self-confidence in APC’s various enterprises – Ploughshares Nursery, Farm2Market farm production, and commercial kitchen. The Farm2Market program sells produce through a subscription service. Continue reading “Dining on the farm at Alameda Point”

Artistic expression at Alameda Point

The viewer is left to decide where graffiti ends and art begins in the following images. Regardless of opinion, one thing is clear: There are people looking for an opportunity to artistically express themselves.  And Alameda Point has plenty of abandoned interior and exterior walls to accommodate them.

"Art in the park"
“Art in the park”

Artist Sam Norton created the mural below at City View Skate Park at Alameda Point in 2015 to honor and remember his friend and fellow skateboarder Clay Harding who died the previous year. Continue reading “Artistic expression at Alameda Point”

Navy to transfer school property

Newly available funds from the 2014 Measure I school bond, as well as the expected growth in student enrollment, prompted Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) to submit a request to the Navy in April to acquire the vacant Island High School and Woodstock Child Development Center parcel on Singleton Avenue on the city’s West End. The Navy responded favorably.

Vacant Island High School site on Singleton Avenue. Coast Guard housing is to the left. Singleton Avenue and vacant North Housing area is to the right. Woodstock Child Development Center is on the far side of the high school.
Vacant Island High School site on Singleton Avenue. Coast Guard housing is to the left. Singleton Avenue and vacant North Housing area is to the right. Woodstock Child Development Center is on the far side of the high school.

The school district previously leased the 5.9-acre parcel from the Navy at no cost. AUSD was slated to receive the two sites from the Navy under a previous application for a Public Benefit Acquisition. However, AUSD vacated the sites in 2010 and 2011 and withdrew their application due to the estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars required for upgrades to the sewer and water lines.

The school district has been resorting to creative desk shuffling in recent years to cope with a shortage of adequate space and lack of funds. One example given by School Superintendent Sean McPhetridge in the application to the Navy states, “One school has gone so far as to relocate a classroom computer lab into a former student toilet room to accommodate the growth of enrollment.”

Currently, the Woodstock Child Development Center and Island High School jointly operate on the site of the former Longfellow Elementary School. The acquisition of the property will allow the district to relocate those two programs back to Singleton Avenue where they previously operated.

Children's playground equipment is from when the school housed Miller Elementary School prior to becoming a high school.
Children’s playground equipment is from when the school housed Miller Elementary School prior to becoming a high school.

In the application, Superintendent McPhetridge describes a veritable ripple effect of efficiencies that would ensue as a result of the acquisition. It would “open the former Longfellow Elementary School site and allow the transfer of other programs from other elementary schools currently in operation, and in turn, it would open classroom space at many existing elementary schools,” stated McPhetridge. “The transfer of programs from existing elementary schools to the former Longfellow Elementary School site would provide for the growth of students at their neighborhood schools.”

A 2014 demographic study projects that the school district will add approximately 1,000 students over the next 10 years, the majority of them on the west side of Alameda. Redeveloped Alameda Point and Alameda Landing are projected to produce approximately 600 students.

“The District has not committed to a full modernization of the buildings at this time, but is planning on committing the funds necessary to open both campuses and provide safe and updated facilities,” stated McPhetridge in the application.

The property transfer process for public benefit conveyances involves sending the parcel from the Navy via another federal agency, in this case, the Department of Education. “The U.S. Dept. of Education approved this transfer and is now waiting to get the title from the Navy,” said Susan E. Davis, Senior Manager of Community Affairs at AUSD. “Once that happens, the Department of Education will give the title to us.”

“We’re hoping that the campus will be open sometime in the 2017-18 school year,” said Davis. “Designing, getting state approval, and doing the construction on school buildings can take some time.”

Singleton Avenue with vacant North Housing on the right. School parcel is on the left.
Singleton Avenue with vacant North Housing on the right. School parcel is on the left.

The Singleton Avenue school sites are located next to the Coast Guard housing to the south. Across the street and to the north of the school parcel is the vacant North Housing site, which is still owned by the Navy and zoned for a new residential neighborhood.

Originally published in the Alameda Sun.

School Board meeting April 28, 2015 regarding property request – see agenda item F – 6.

Alameda Point Collaborative hosts luncheon down on the farm

Patrons seated themselves under a canopy between rows of crops at Alameda Point Collaborative’s farm for its fifth annual “Urban Farm Table” fundraising luncheon on Sunday, May 17. A guitar and stringed bass duo provided musical ambience for the arriving guests from within a nearby thicket of blossoming passion fruit vines. Bees went about their business from teeming beehives clinging to the branches of a fruit tree in the farm orchard. It was an earthy affair.

APC farm luncheon

The Collaborative provides supportive housing for homeless individuals, children and youth services, and job training programs, such as selling their farm produce through a subscription service, operating a commercial kitchen, and raising and selling plants at the Ploughshares Nursery.

Bryant Terry at APC farm luncheonNationally known author and sustainable food activist Bryant Terry gave the keynote address. He wove together personal memories of food and culture from the days before the phrase “slow food movement” was coined. Terry characterized APC’s local farm program as a radical idea in an era of corporate agribusiness that harms the environment and shortchanges consumers’ health.

Terry praised the Collaborative’s Farm2Market subscription produce program as a model that should be emulated throughout the country. “There are many urban neighborhoods where it’s easier to find a gun than a fresh apple,” he said. Terry is the author of the critically-acclaimed “Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine.”

Terry wrapped up his engaging talk about food and culture by preparing a simple veggie dish over a gas burner. While he was chopping and stirring, he offered a tip for anyone expecting dinner guests. He said no matter what you’re serving, throw some olive oil and garlic into a hot skillet before the guests arrive to get that aroma into the air. “They’ll compliment you every time, even if all you are serving is dessert.”

A cadre of snappily dressed servers delivered a two-course meal. The tricolored beet salad with pistachios, spring greens and radishes was topped with a roasted apricot and Point Reyes bleu cheese vinaigrette and accompanied by a slice of Rosemary focaccia.

Jeff Rosen at left in white.
Jeff Rosen at left in white.

The gourmet menu was created and supervised by Jeff Rosen, executive chef at Oakland’s Blue Heron Catering. All of the produce was grown at APC’s farm. Joe Pucci Seafood provided the local salmon. The featured beverages came from Rock Wall Wine Company, St. George Spirits, and Petitpot.

As each pan-roasted salmon entre was assembled, chef Rosen personally inspected each plate and spooned on the Tuscan salsa verde before it was hustled off to the table. The nine vegetarians enjoyed the chef’s fresh pea and green garlic cakes with shaved fennel.

Awards were handed out to volunteers and supporters from the Haas School of Business, Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Bay Farm Elementary School, and Alain Pinel Realtors.

The event was sponsored by Alameda Point Partners, Penumbra, SanMan Productions, VF Outdoor, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

Published in the Alameda Sun, May 21, 2015