Site A mixed-use construction poised to commence

City Council to consider amended development deal

On March 6, the Alameda City Council will consider a change to the stalled development deal for Site A, the mixed-use project at Alameda Point.  The proposed change would remove a restrictive condition governing the order in which construction happens.

Alameda Point Partners (APP), the developer for Site A, is requesting an amendment to its Development and Disposition Agreement.  The amendment would remove a provision that allows the city to withhold building permits for market rate units if the affordable housing subcontractor, Eden Housing, is unable to secure all of its financing.   The purpose of the current provision, called a Metering Provision, was to ensure that the affordable housing units would be built in a timely manner.  The city has approved the designs for Eden’s 70-unit family affordable complex and 60-unit senior affordable complex. Continue reading “Site A mixed-use construction poised to commence”

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.

AP Waterfront Plans

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.”

AP Waterfront Plans

“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).”

AP Waterfront Plans

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.”

AP Waterfront Plans

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.”

AP Waterfront Plans

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.”

AP Waterfront Plans

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.”

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Later phase. Not part of Phase 1.
Later phase. Not part of Phase 1.

AP Waterfront Plans

AP Waterfront Plans

Click on any image to enlarge.
Click on any image to enlarge.

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Click on image to enlarge.
Click on image to enlarge.

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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.

Site A aerial view looking northeast

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.

Rooftop solar panelsIn 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.

Location of proposed Site A development project at Alameda Point, looking west from Main Street.
Location of proposed Site A development project at Alameda Point, looking west from Main Street.

Site A aerial view looking west

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.

West Atlantic Avenue will be realigned as a four-lane divided street to the right of the big tree and become a continuation of Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway.  Main Street in foreground.
West Atlantic Avenue will be realigned as a four-lane divided street to the right of the big tree and become a continuation of Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway. Main Street in foreground.

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”