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Encinal Terminals Development Soon Underway

The City has taken another step in transforming its once-industrialized North Shore to residential communities. As work continues to convert the former Del Monte warehouse property into living space and shops, developers will turn the first spade of earth to do the same with the nearby Encinal Terminals. After years of designing and redesigning plans to meet the City’s requirements, Tim Lewis Communities (TLC) got the nod last month that it needed from the City Council to build 589 apartments/townhouses at a spot where shipping history was made.

In 1925, Californian Packing, better known in its day as Calpak, carved docks out of the marshland and built wharves that became known as Encinal Terminals. Large transit sheds on the site of today’s Wind River complex, facilitated shipping the products that Calpak had stored at its Del Monte warehouse on Buena Vista Avenue.

Alameda Post - Encinal Terminals 1927
Workers used the marshland to the left of the Alaska Packers fleet in the first photo to create the property it needed to operate the Encinal Terminals. They then dug out the marsh further west to create a harbor for ships picking up and delivering goods stored in the Del Monte warehouse, which is visible in the photo. File photo.

In the late 1950s, Encinal Terminals played a major role in introducing a major change in how the shipping industry did business. According to the Port of Oakland’s Dan Westerlin, “The idea of container shipping originated with Sea-Land Services, Inc. in New Jersey.” He tells us that in 1956, Sea-Land first put their cargo in specially designed boxes, called “sea chests,” for safe and efficient transport.

In 1959, Matson Lines installed the first container crane on the West Coast to facilitate the loading and unloading of containers from cargo ships. Matson chose Encinal Terminals because a company called PACECO had designed and built the crane at its shops near the Estuary on Clement Avenue east of Oak Street, the site of today’s parking lot for Perforce Software. In 1962, PACECO built a crane for Matson across the Estuary at the Port of Oakland. Six years later, Oakland had taken over the containerized shipping business.

Read more about the history of PACECO cranes in Alameda at
Alameda Post - aerial view of Encinal Terminals
This undated photo shows Encinal Terminal in full operations. The crane in the photo (the long white apparatus) helps date it to sometime after Jan. 7, 1959, when the Matson installed the crane. Read more about this crane in the accompanying sidebar. File photo.

TLC also once owned the Del Monte site. The developer acquired both that warehouse and the Encinal Terminals in 2013. Four years later, the City Council approved TLC’s plan for a mixed-use project at the warehouse site with 380 housing units. In a move called a “flip” in the real-estate industry, TLC searched for and found a firm with much deeper pockets to complete the Del Monte project. TLC “flipped” the property to Wood Partners. In December 2019, Wood announced that its “Alta Buena Vista” (now Alta Star Harbor) project would “turn a historic warehouse into 372 apartments.” Alamedans are finally witnessing not only the conversion of one more North Shore industrial operation into a residential community, but the extension of Clement Avenue through the Alta Buena Vista development and on to Atlantic Avenue.

Proposed development at the sites of the Del Monte building and the Encinal Terminals. The extension of Clement Avenue to Atlantic Avenue will run to the West between them.

In TLC’s latest set of plans for Encinal Terminals, the developer states that retail shops and offices, a kayak launch open to the public, a water-shuttle, and a marina will complement the housing. TLC also plans to allow walkers and bicyclists access along the Estuary’s shoreline by rerouting the Bay Trail that currently runs along Clement Avenue south of the property. Ownership of the shoreline in this project will remain in the public’s, not the developer’s, hands. TLC plans to remove the deteriorating timber and concrete wharves from the site. Any wharf-top improvements the developer makes must come before the City for design review.

TLC stated that of the 589 units it plans to build, 80 will fall in the affordable-housing category: 25 for families of four with annual incomes of $68,500 or less; 20 for families of four with $109,600 or less in income; and 35 for families of four with an annual incomes of $150,700 or less.

In its report to the City, TLC has pledged that, “Within 36 months it will begin site-wide preparatory improvements.” These include the demolition of all existing buildings on the property, as well as grading and soil stabilization to address any earthquake and liquefaction risks. TLC also stated that by 2025, it will build a temporary 16-foot-wide asphalt public pathway to connect the site to the Fortman public shoreline. This would allow for a continuous Bay Trail around the perimeter of the property.

Alameda Post - Alaska Packers fleet
Ships belonging to the Alaska Packers fleet spent the winter months in Alameda. Government Island in the background helps date this picture to after 1913, the year the island was created. File photo.

Then, within the first four years, TLC states that it would begin building the Clement Avenue Bay Trail bulkhead and the Entrance Road intersection. The developer also promises to build the Fortman Marina driveway and complete Gateway Park. TLC also states that it may begin construction of the first 125 market-rate housing units within the four-year time frame.

“The redevelopment of the site provides the opportunity to embrace, depict, and demonstrate through art, architecture, and education, the history of the site,” TLC stated in its presentation to the City.

Dennis Evanosky is the Editor of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected].

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