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Council Shapes Alameda Point’s Character Through Leases, Sales

Also approves pool design and museum agreement

On January 16, City Council held a study session on priorities for Alameda Point leases. The goal was to augment a Disposition Strategy with guidance on desired and discouraged building uses to assist staff in selecting potential tenants or buyers. Council requested the study session after rejecting a potential lease of Building 11 to Science Corp, a life sciences company, over animal ethical concerns in October 2023.

Alameda Post - a map of Alameda Point dictating the reuse area
The Alameda Point reuse areas and development areas. Image presented at January 16, 2024 City Council meeting, Agenda item 7-A.

Council also approved the final design by the Alameda Unified School District for the Emma Hood Swim Center at Alameda High School and authorized a five-year agreement with Alameda Museum to collect, preserve, and exhibit Alameda’s historical artifacts and documents.

Study session background

Staff sought guidance from Council on the City’s priorities for Alameda Point Reuse Area properties over the next 18 to 24 months, including Buildings 11, 24, 41, and 92, and developable property near Building 92. The Reuse Area is a fraction of Alameda Point, and these buildings are a small subset of the area. However, they represent critical short-term opportunities to define Alameda Point’s character.



In March 2023, Council expressed support for a Mixed Portfolio Phasing Strategy, which focused on the timing of leasing and selling buildings to deliver infrastructure. Since then, staff and the City’s real estate broker have focused on recruiting tenants that support the City’s priority economic sectors, namely life sciences, clean tech/green tech/high tech, blue tech and maritime, retail and restaurants, tourism and hospitality, artists, and small manufacturers. Alameda Point already has begun to emerge as a strategic location for many of these sectors.

Staff proposed adding two priorities:

  • Focus on priority sectors of the City’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, establishing up-front expectations for building uses. For instance, animal testing could be prohibited while life sciences not requiring animal testing could be encouraged.
  • Provide a streamlined leasing process to improve the City’s chances of attracting desirable tenants.
Alameda Post - buildings at Alameda Point
Buildings for sale or lease at Alameda Point. Photos presented at January 16, 2024 City Council meeting, Agenda item 7-A.

Council discussion

Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft wanted to emphasize pursuing employers who create substantial jobs from entry level up to doctorate-level research and development. “We have valuable property with amazing views. I’m not looking for low-cost tenants,” she said, referencing a staff suggestion to consider businesses desiring ample space at low cost, such as contractor storage yards.

Ashcraft noted that a mandate for naval base reuse was to backfill the 18,000 jobs lost when the base closed. She said she wanted to focus on tenants who would create jobs for residents, including those in the RESHAP neighborhood and Alameda Point Collaborative. She expressed concern about the City losing control of properties once sold and wanted to ensure appropriate zoning.

Vice Mayor Tony Daysog suggested considering public right-of-way easements to conserve views and recommended delineating areas where Council should always have input regarding prospective tenants while allowing staff flexibility to make non-controversial decisions. He cited the area where the Alameda Food Bank is contemplating a new building in a hangar away from view corridors as an example of where staff could be empowered to respond nimbly without Council consultation.

Councilmember Trish Herrera Spencer said she supported selling buildings because she doesn’t feel the City should be a landlord. However, she doesn’t feel the City is ready to sell because zoning needs to be tightened to protect view corridors and historical integrity and ensure that, for instance, a manufacturing facility isn’t next to a restaurant.

Councilmember Malia Vella echoed her colleagues’ desire to tighten zoning before selling, particularly to prevent unsightly storage. She expressed concern about selling in the current financial climate when high interest rates could prevent getting the best price. She thought it was a good time to consider what hospitality businesses the City should pursue in a few years as Alameda Point becomes more populated.

Councilmember Tracy Jensen expressed concern about PFAS contamination at Building 41. City Manager Jennifer Ott responded that the environmental issues related to PFAS can be mitigated, but a question is whether PFAS is a CERCLA substance under federal law, which affects cleanup liability. The City is having ongoing discussions with the Navy to resolve this. In the meantime, the City could offer a lease with the option to purchase once the issue is settled.

Staff will now consider Council’s input as they and the City’s real estate broker continue to seek Alameda Point tenants. All transactions will continue to return to the Council for a final decision.

Related decision–animal testing

In a related decision, Councilmembers Herrera Spencer and Vella submitted a referral to consider directing staff to draft an ordinance prohibiting animal testing and experimentation on property owned or controlled by the City. The referral passed 3-2, with Vice Mayor Daysog and Councilmembers Herrera Spencer and Vella voting in favor and Mayor Ashcraft and Councilmember Jensen opposed. Staff will present the draft ordinance as a regular agenda item at a future meeting.

Mayor Ashcraft said she wants to hold an informed discussion with input from unbiased research professionals, perhaps from local universities, before settling on what guidance to provide regarding leasing to life science companies.

Alameda Post - a design for the Emma Hood Swim Center
Emma Hood Swim Center design. Photo presented at January 16, 2024 City Council meeting, Agenda item 7-C.
Alameda Post - a design for the Emma Hood Swim Center in relation to the tennis court design and existing baseball field
The Emma Hood Swim Center design (upper right) and tennis court configuration. Photo presented at January 16, 2024 City Council meeting, Agenda item 7-C.

Emma Hood final design approved

Council unanimously approved the final design by Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) for the Emma Hood Swim Center at Alameda High School (AHS). AUSD and the City jointly operate the swim center, which serves AHS and community aquatics teams and Alameda Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) swim lessons.

Due to its age and condition, the County of Alameda requires the swim center to undergo substantial renovation to remain open. The City and AUSD have committed to sharing the costs, not exceeding $7.5 million per agency.

The pool layout will consist of the main pool with 12 lanes and a practice pool with four lanes. The design provides separate entrances for public access during school hours and meets the operational needs of AUSD, ARPD, and community aquatic organizations. Due to budget constraints, the project does not include improvements to the pool building (locker rooms, restrooms, storage, and office). Still, AUSD Chief Business Officer Shariq Khan says AUSD will make minor cosmetic improvements once the pool work is complete.

The design was developed based on input from AUSD athletic staff, Alameda Recreation and Park Department (ARPD), community aquatics organization representatives, and the broader community. AUSD anticipates construction to start in the spring, with an estimated opening in spring/summer of 2025.

Alameda Post - the front of the Alameda Museum
The Alameda Museum. Photo Adam Gillitt.

Alameda Museum agreement approved

Council also received a report on Alameda Museum’s archival activities on behalf of the City and unanimously authorized a five-year agreement with the Museum for the collection, preservation, and exhibition of Alameda’s historical artifacts and documents, with a focus on diversity and inclusivity in its exhibits and programs, accessibility through technology, collaboration with City Departments and community partners, and strategic growth to include the hiring of professional staff. The agreement includes the City’s payment to the Museum not to exceed $42,600 annually or $213,000 over five years.

The Museum is a local nonprofit organization that conserves artifacts relevant to Alameda’s cultural and architectural heritage and stores historical records for the City. It provides archival preservation, including document and photo archives from the Library, City records, Fire and Police Departments, Planning and Building, ARPD, and other records.

Alameda Post - a scene of an early alameda kitchen
A scene of what an Alameda settler’s kitchen may have looked like. Photo Alameda Museum.

Examples of the Museum’s current presentations and programs include Asian Heritage Month, Celebrating Filipino/a/x culture, hosting student classes, and assisting with the Alameda Japanese American History Project. Recently, the Museum sought guidance on appropriately stewarding artifacts from the Ohlone community.

The Museum is open to the public for free on weekends at 2324 Alameda Ave. It educates through exhibits and programs on Alameda’s history, heritage, and early pioneers. Memberships start at $20 per year and include the Museum Quarterly newsletter and invitations to lectures promoting Bay Area history.

Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at https://linktr.ee/karinkjensen and https://alamedapost.com/Karin-K-Jensen.

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