Planning Board Approves Grand Street Townhomes

On December 12, the Planning Board unanimously approved a townhome development project proposed by Trumark Homes for 2015 Grand Street. The development will include 90 townhome units, five accessory dwelling units, private driveways, and alleys on a 4.14-acre parcel. The project also includes streetscape and bicycle infrastructure improvements, including completing Clement Avenue between Grand and Hibbard streets and constructing the Cross Alameda Trail between Grand and Paru streets.

Alameda Post - a render of 2015 Grand Street townhomes
Style A of the proposed townhomes to be built on a vacant parcel. Image from 7A Exhibit 1 of the December 12, 2022 Planning Board meeting agenda. Image courtesy Trumark Homes.

2015 Grand Street Background

2015 Grand Street is a vacant parcel initially developed in 1952 as a Pennzoil petroleum mixing and packaging facility, then used for distribution until closing in 2020. That year, the owner, Shell Oil, removed all buildings and improvements, including petroleum storage tanks, and remediated the site, including removing potentially contaminated soil and sampling the remaining soil to the satisfaction of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Trumark has the option to purchase the property from Shell Oil and hopes to break ground on the project in 2023. The project features two different design types—buildings north of Clement Avenue will feature a stucco-clad “A Style” design and buildings south of Clement Avenue will feature a “B Style” design with stone veneer.

The project includes 14 buildings with four to nine townhome units in each building. Trumark proposes to deed-restrict four units for very low-income households, five for low-income households, and six for moderate-income households. The proposed 15 affordable housing units satisfy the City’s Inclusionary Housing Requirements. The company’s two other communities on the island, Crest and Leeward at Alameda Point, built in 2021 and 2022, have already sold out.

Alameda Post - a render of proposed townhomes for 2015 Grand Street
Style B of the proposed townhomes. Image from 7A Exhibit 1 of the December 12, 2022 Planning Board meeting agenda. Image courtesy Trumark Homes.

The City’s recently updated Housing Element, which provides the plan for meeting its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 5,353 residential units for 2023-2031, lists the project’s 90 townhome units as helping the City meet its RHNA. The City also considers the project crucial for providing physical access and connectivity in the vicinity of Grand Street/Clement Avenue.

Because the 2015 Grand Street project proposes to develop residential housing, the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) applies to the project. Under the HAA, the City may not deny or reduce the project’s density.

Public comment

Alameda Post - another view of the renders of the proposed townhomes
Townhome plans include parking and rooftop terraces. Image from 7A Exhibit 1 of the December 12, 2022 Planning Board meeting agenda. Image courtesy Trumark Homes.

Three public members spoke. Karen L. said that site plans showed no playground or area for children to play, exercise, and socialize and added that she wished there was more open space in the design. Similarly, Pamela M. commented on how “jarring it will be to see structures in the location so densely packed with no green space.” She also said she lives near the site and regularly smells “terrible odors,” suggesting that “the site has not been properly remediated.” Garrett Hinds of Trumark responded that the Regional Water Quality Control Board cleared the site, but they will look into what’s going on and see if odors are coming from the site.

Christopher Buckley of the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society requested additional street trees and minimum planting spaces and explicitly asked for London Plane and Brisbane Box trees to be planted along Clement Avenue in compliance with the City’s Master Street Tree Plan.

Sonia Trauss, Executive Director of YIMBY Law, based in San Francisco, wrote in a letter that the project is zoning and general plan compliant. Under the HAA, the City could only legally deny the application if it found the project adversely impacted health and safety. She said if the City did not comply with the law, YIMBY Law would sue the City for failure to comply.

Board discussion and vote

Planning Board President Teresa Ruiz said she was a little disappointed when she saw the application, feeling it looked like a “value-engineered” version of the Leeward and Crest projects. However, she understood that Trumark submitted the application under the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, and the site is highly constrained. Board Vice President Hanson Hom added that he appreciated that Trumark included roof-level open space that helps provide outdoor air even though it’s not on the ground level.

Board Member Alan Teague motioned to approve the project on the condition that Trumark adds London Plane and Brisbane Box trees to the landscaping plan and corrects some failures to meet objective design standards related to exterior finishes. The motion passed unanimously 6-0.

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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