Signs of the times at Alameda Point

New street signs have been installed at Alameda Point, along with iconic winged emblems painted on the sides of hangars. The purpose of the new signs is for helping visitors find their way around and highlighting attractions and key tenants. The signs also create an enhanced sense of place for current and future tenants.

Square Peg Design, a company based out of Oakland, developed the signage program and describes it as “an interim program that addresses the immediate needs of Alameda Point as a bridge to the ultimate reuse of the site as envisioned in the new Alameda Point Zoning District Ordinance.” They state it will “clean up the confusing signage that has grown over the years and replace it with an organized and comprehensible wayfinding program.”

Aviation-themed Alameda Point signAviation history up to the time of the Naval Air Station provided inspiration for the designs.

The Alameda Point Wayfinding Signage Program project was commissioned in September of 2014. The contract for fabrication and installation was awarded to Ellis and Ellis Sign Systems of Sacramento at a cost of $360,000. No General Fund money was used for the project.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Rehab falters at historical Bachelor Enlisted Quarters

Outdoor soccer activities thrive in the field outside the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) on Lexington Street at Alameda Point. Unfortunately, potential indoor activities languish for lack of a viable business plan.

Soccer game on BEQ Quadrangle at Alameda Point.
Soccer game on BEQ Quadrangle at Alameda Point.

Negotiations for converting the BEQ to an international boarding school and a senior assisted living facility ended on January 31, 2015, without a deal. The city council had authorized a six-month exclusive negotiating agreement with developer Alameda United Commercial (AUC) in August of 2014. The developer sought to purchase 20 acres that includes the U-shaped three-building complex, but not the quadrangle lawn area in the middle used by soccer teams.

Despite a favorable staff recommendation to the Planning Board in December to approve the Development Plan for the project, agreement on terms of the deal could not be reached.

The international school (K-12) would have offered boarding for students in junior high and older, commercial offices, an assisted senior living facility, and recreation and dining amenities. The developer proposed landscaping upgrades, 500 bike racks and up to 1,000 parking spaces. “The uses of the site will provide financial support to expand transit services to Alameda Point and the users of the property,” stated city planner Andrew Thomas.

The proposed deal called for the city to receive $7.76 million that would have remained dedicated to Alameda Point. In addition, the developer was going to provide roadway, sidewalk, bike lane and utility infrastructure upgrades to the surrounding four streets totaling $20 million, according to a letter to the city from AUC’s Salvatore Caruso.

South side of BEQ with West Midway Avenue on the right.
South side of BEQ with West Midway Avenue on the right.

The BEQ complex, with a 518,219-square-foot building footprint, is one of the most important contributing sites to the Naval Air Station Historic District. The U.S. Navy constructed the complex in 1940 to provide facilities for the boarding, dining and recreating of enlisted men. The architectural style of the complex is known as “Moderne” and is a unifying design theme of the Historic District.

BEQ Mess Hall

“The City remains very interested in developing the BEQ and believes firmly that it has the potential to be a flagship development in Alameda Point,” said Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer for Alameda Point. “We will be open to any proposals that come our way in the future.”

Meanwhile, the four soccer fields on the BEQ Quadrangle that are leased to the Alameda Soccer Club are booked solid on weekends by as many as 100 East Bay soccer teams that the club is affiliated with. The soccer club funded the replacement of various lawn sections and general lawn refurbishment last year as part of their lease agreement.

BEQ Quadrangle

The exteriors of the fortress-like reinforced concrete buildings show few signs of cracking and structural deterioration since 1940. The interiors are a different story.

BEQ south wing residential and office

Metal thieves have trashed the insides to remove copper wire. With the copper cache picked clean, thieves have turned to aluminum, removing a 15-foot-long aluminum handrail from a mess hall staircase. Some night visitors just come to party and leave behind their spray-painted artwork on the walls. Peeling layers of paint the size of a hand towel dangle from the ceiling of the mess hall kitchen.

BEQ Mess Hall kitchen

“I think it is likely that as Site A [a 68-acre proposed residential and commercial development next to the Seaplane Lagoon] hopefully comes to fruition there will be increased attention on the historic properties in Alameda Point and we will receive more interest in the property,” said Ott.

West side of BEQ along Monarch Street looking toward San Francisco.
West side of BEQ along Monarch Street looking toward San Francisco.

Last year, negotiations between the city and AUC on a separate proposal to construct a hotel and condominium project between the aircraft hangars and the Seaplane Lagoon also ended without a deal.

Originally published in the Alameda Sun.

Appendix of photos

Pegasus statue at BEQ

BEQ Mess Hall

BEQ Mess Hall - Alameda Point

BEQ Mess Hall kitchen

BEQ Mess Hall Alameda Point

BEQ Mess Hall kitchen Alameda Point

BEQ Mess Hall dining area Alameda Point

BEQ Mess Hall

BEQ Mess Hall staircase with missing aluminum handrail.
BEQ Mess Hall staircase with missing aluminum handrail.
Living quarters on second floor of BEQ Mess Hall.
Living quarters on second floor of BEQ Mess Hall.
BEQ Mess Hall second floor living quarters.
BEQ Mess Hall second floor living quarters.

BEQ

BEQ Mess Hall dining area.
BEQ Mess Hall dining area.
BEQ Mess Hall storage room.
BEQ Mess Hall storage room.
Second floor room in BEQ Recreation Center.
Second floor room in BEQ Recreation Center.

BEQ Homeport Club recreation center

View from BEQ toward Monarch Street.
View from BEQ toward Monarch Street.
BEQ north side.  West Redline Avenue is to the right.
BEQ north side. West Redline Avenue is to the right.
One of the rare cracks in the 75-year-old BEQ.
One of the rare cracks in the 75-year-old BEQ.
BEQ north wing living quarters with balcony.
BEQ north wing living quarters with balcony.

BEQ north wing

BEQ Mess Hall
BEQ Mess Hall

BEQ living quarters

BEQ Mess Hall staircase showing exceptional structural integrity after 75 years.
BEQ Mess Hall staircase showing exceptional structural integrity after 75 years.

Soccer on the BEQ Quadrangle

Soccer on BEQ Quadrangle

Soccer on the BEQ Quadrangle

BEQ Mess Hall exterior

BEQ Eagle