On Monday, December 9, 2019, the Planning Board will consider approving changes to the Waterfront Park and Block 11 at Site A at Alameda Point that were previously approved in 2016 “in an effort to reduce escalating construction costs and long term maintenance costs for both the building and the park.” The City has already granted numerous modifications to the development agreement, with good reasons. The current request does not merit approval because it would cheapen the waterfront focal point. Continue reading “Developer proposes changes that would cheapen waterfront area”
Demolition Underway at Alameda Point
Developer finding ways to recycle material
The heavy equipment was already demolishing buildings and pavement as the ceremonial groundbreaking took place on May 23. Workers had already leveled many of the structures. They had already begun separating the remains into distinct piles of concrete, asphalt, structural steel, sheet metal and rebar for recycling.
“Everything that can be recycled is being recycled,” said Joe Ernst, president of srmErnst, one of the Alameda Point Partners group busy at Site A. “In our bidding we pushed for everything to be separated and recycled, with the value of recycled material offsetting demo cost. All of the ground-up asphalt and concrete will remain onsite and be used under streets and any exterior concrete structures and surfaces.” Continue reading “Demolition Underway at Alameda Point”
Waterfront Park plans – Public comment welcomed
The Planning Board and the Recreation and Park Commission will be making comments this week on the first phase of a waterfront park being planned for the north side of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point. The public is invited to offer comments.
The Planning Board meeting is on Monday at 7 PM at City Hall. The Recreation and Park Commission meeting is on Thursday at 7 PM at City Hall.
Below are excerpts from the city staff report, along with a series of images in an easy-to-examine format excerpted from the complete design proposal. Click on any image to enlarge.
“Alameda Point Partners (APP) has been working with their design consultants, park planners, a Planning Board Subcommittee and City staff to prepare detailed designs for the individual buildings and parks within Site A. APP has submitted an application for design review for a 2.63-acre Phase 1 of the waterfront park along the northern edge of the Seaplane Lagoon that is intended to be constructed concurrent with Block 11.”
“Phase 1 Waterfront Park is designed to provide a variety of public spaces for passive recreation and opportunities for the public to enjoy the waterfront location and special events, and appreciate the views of the San Francisco skyline and the historic row of seaplane hangar buildings at the entrance to the Historic District, along the northern edge of the Seaplane Lagoon.”
“The 2.63-acre Phase 1 Waterfront Park is designed to create three primary sub-areas (i.e., the Overlook, the Promenade & Terraces, and the Taxiway).”
“The Overlook includes a pavilion for a café with outdoor seating and restrooms, as well as an elevated salvaged or reclaimed wood outdoor area for overlooking the promenade at the water’s edge, as well as portions of the promenade adjacent to the water. The Overlook also accommodates flexible event and programmable space.”
“The Promenade and Terraces consists of a series of terraces and promenade spaces leading down to the water’s edge that provide for a variety of more passive spaces for enjoying and experiencing the waterfront. Access to the waterfront promenade allows for universal design through slightly sloped walkways and seating elements that provide for a variety of all age groups and needs.”
“The Taxiway area is intended to pay homage and respect to the historic elements of the former NAS Alameda by engraving a timeline along the major east west gathering area into the concrete to remind and educate the public about the history of the site and the Historic District, and by minimizing tree plantings and planted areas to preserve the ‘openness’ of the historic taxiways consistent with the Historic District guidelines. This area includes open and unobstructed areas planned for special events and food trucks and future retail buildings as conceived in the Site A Development Plan and a temporary multi-purpose lawn for active recreation uses until future phases of the Waterfront Park are constructed and this area is designed consistent with the areas to the north.”
“Address Sea-Level Rise. With anticipated sea level rise, the existing taxiways will flood. Consistent with the approved MIP and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) policies, the Phase 1 Waterfront Park is designed to address 24-inches of sea level rise and additional sea level rise in future years beyond 24 inches through adaptive management strategies.”
“The Phase 1 Waterfront Park design maintains the “horizontality” of the space and minimizes the use of walls in order to respect the cultural landscape guidelines for the Historic District.
“Additionally, the sea level rise strategy is designed around a series of short terraces spread over a larger space to minimize the impression of changes in elevation. This approach also allows for the preservation of the existing bulkhead, which is a character defining feature of the Historic District. During storm events and “King Tides” (unusually high tides), the bulkhead and adjacent promenade will flood occasionally as the sea level rises over time, but major portions of the public park and Bay Trail will remain above the flooded areas behind the stepped terraces. As such, the design balances the competing needs to address sea-level rise, preserve the bulkhead, and maintain the horizontality of the site.”
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.
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.
Nationally 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.
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
Rooftop solar panels uncertain at Alameda Point
More than 24 new residential and commercial buildings are proposed for construction at the 68-acre Site A project at Alameda Point, which was approved unanimously by the Planning Board on Monday, May 11. All the buildings will be solar ready. But according to Joe Ernst, the project leader for Alameda Point Partners, there is no guarantee there will ever be any solar panels on the rooftops.
Ernst blames the currently underfunded rebate incentive system and a lack of financing vehicles with tax incentives, which can leave developers having to absorb the full cost of the photovoltaic solar panels. He said it could take anywhere from seven to 10 years to offset the cost of the solar panels through power savings if his company had to fund them out of pocket.
The solar panel rebate programs offered by the State of California and Alameda Municipal Power lag far behind the ambitious goals recently launched by Governor Jerry Brown. The governor’s executive order on greenhouse gas reduction, issued on April 29, 2015, followed through on goals that he outlined a few months earlier in his inaugural address.
“I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles,” said Governor Brown in his speech.
But at Alameda Point, the inconsistency between the governor’s goals and the programs to implement them stands in stark contrast. The proposed 68-acre Site A project next to the Seaplane Lagoon is left wanting for solar panels. But a few feet away at Hangar 41, Wrightspeed is preparing to manufacture fuel-efficient electric powertrains for trucks with the aid of $5.8 million in grant funding from the California Energy Commission.
In order to limit the onsite production of power, which cuts into a power company’s bottom line, rate structures for buying and selling power from rooftop solar producers can be skewed in favor of power companies. This, in turn, can effect decisions on investing in rooftop solar. One of the hurdles is right here in Alameda.
Alameda’s Public Utilities Board recently held a workshop on rate structure alternatives known as Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Feed In Tariff (FIT) but held off on making any decision. Rooftop solar proponents favor an expansion of NEM.
A nonprofit agency in Palo Alto overcame obstacles to installing rooftop solar with a combination of independent financing and various incentives. In early 2014, the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center completed a rooftop solar project on their campus that was financed through a power purchase agreement and took advantage of available incentives. It required no capital costs to the center.
The company that packaged the deal, THiNKnrg, owns the solar panels. It will deliver electricity at 4 cents a kilowatt, half the current energy rate, saving the center an estimated $1.5 million over the 20-year contract. The deal covers 12 buildings with 1,840 solar panels, which will generate .5 megawatt of power. It is Palo Alto’s second largest rooftop solar system.
The rooftops at Alameda’s Site A project will be designed to accept the weight of solar panels. Conduits, pathways, switchgear and metering will be designed into the buildings. Although this new construction project is a prime candidate to turn on the lights with solar on the first day, it’s unlikely without the support of state incentives and Alameda Municipal Power.
Published in the Alameda Sun, May 14, 2015.
Alameda Point gateway plan begins taking shape
At its January 20, 2015 meeting, the city council will weigh-in on the preliminary layout proposed by developer Alameda Point Partners (APP) for a 68-acre residential and commercial parcel between Main Street and the Seaplane Lagoon.
APP was selected by the former city council on November 18, 2014, to work up a plan for 800 condos and apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The developer will also be responsible for changing the gateway street alignment from an oval to a straight line leading to a new public plaza at the Seaplane Lagoon. Continue reading “Alameda Point gateway plan begins taking shape”