Planning Board recommends adding 41 units to third phase of construction
At its July 12 meeting, the Planning Board recommended that City Council approve amending the Alameda Marina Master Plan to increase the number of housing units from 760 to 801. With some conditions, the Board also approved the development plan and design for Phase III of the project, including a five-story residential building with 259 apartments and one work/live unit.
Historically, Alameda Marina was an industrial boating and marine craft maintenance and storage area on the Northern Waterfront between Clement Avenue and the Oakland/Alameda Estuary. In 2018, City Council approved the Alameda Marina Master Plan to develop the site, including 760 housing units, 250,000 square feet of commercial and maritime commercial space, 3.59 acres of shoreline open space, and a 530-slip marina.
Since the plan was approved, the applicant, Alameda Marina, LLC, has built a $35 million, 4,009-foot seawall and $10 million of pedestrian/bike improvements along the project site. They have completed the Phase I 360-unit apartment building, Launch, begun constructing the 182 townhomes in Phase II, and started commercial tenant improvements in a historic building.
The applicant requested amending the Master Plan to increase Phase III, The Foundry, from 218 to 259 housing units, an increase from 760 to 801 units for the total project. The increase does not change the previously approved height or size of the Phase III building. The building will be five stories and include 73 studios, 119 one-bedroom units, 66 two-bedroom units, and one three-bedroom unit. There will be 373 vehicle parking spaces and 315 bicycle parking spaces.
Catching up on housing production
City Planner Allen Tai noted that the City’s Housing Element stipulates building 5,353 new units during the 2023-2031 housing cycle, or 669 units per year for eight years. Due to market conditions, the City has issued only 41 building permits in 2023. Phase III building is an opportunity to catch up on housing production for the first year of the eight-year cycle.
State law imposes a density bonus program requiring the City to permit the developer to build additional residential units if they agree to build a certain percentage of affordable housing meeting specific criteria. Of 801 housing units, 46 will be deed-restricted to very low-income households, 26 to low-income households, and 45 to moderate-income households, for 117 affordable units as required by the City’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.
Phase III design
The building will be set back at least 20 feet from the sidewalk to relieve the walkway visually. Garage access will be on Lafayette Street, a side street, instead of fronting Clement Avenue. The “wrap building” architecture will place the apartment building around the above-ground multi-level parking structure at the center, hiding it from view. Recessed balconies and roof decks will visually access the marina and estuary.
Residents will benefit from Alameda Marina’s public waterfront and open space. Amenities will include a central courtyard with a swimming pool, fire pits, and barbecue areas. The roof will feature a clubroom and deck overlooking the marina and estuary. A viewing corridor in the building’s middle will provide sightlines between Clement Avenue and the waterfront.
Board comments and vote
Board member Alan Teague said he appreciated the increase in very low-income housing, opining that Alameda is “abysmal” at providing housing for that economic sector. However, he and other board members took issue with specific design elements, particularly related to the view corridor.
Ultimately, the Board unanimously approved the Master Plan Amendment and the Phase III development plan and design under the condition that the developer will work with City staff to improve certain design elements. For instance, regarding the view corridor, the Board asked the developer to step back a fence, increase its transparency and lower its height. The Board also asked the developer to demarcate the main entrance better to improve wayfinding.
City staff will present the proposed Master Plan amendment for final approval at an upcoming City Council meeting. Remaining improvements at the Alameda Marina and their anticipated completion dates include a temporary Bay Trail by the third quarter of 2023, a final Bay Trail and commercial building by the second quarter of 2024, Svendsen Maritime Park by the first quarter of 2025, and dry boat storage and remaining commercial buildings by fourth quarter of 2026.
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.