13 June 2005

Where is the Estuary again?

I've gotten a lot of questions on the Estuary, mostly along the lines of "where is it?" or "how close is it to BART?" To help matters, I pieced together this graphic. Points of interest including Jack London Square and Lake Merritt are clearly visible, so it's easy to see where Oak-to-9th is in respect to everything else. The two main sections of the site are in light green (5th Avenue Marina) and dark green (9th Avenue Terminal). The pink section within the 5th Avenue Marina is the Silveira property, which is the one privately owned parcel on the site and the one which presents the greatest legal challenges (owner J.W. Silveira is suing Oakland over the inclusion of his property in the redevelopment plan).

Click on the graphic for a larger version

A quick explanation of the photo:
  • The I-880 5th Avenue Overpass is highlighted in blue because it's going to be rebuilt. Nearby land is being cleared away to accommodate the construction equipment and vehicles to be used. The freeway will be widened 40 feet to include carpool lanes, revamp local interchanges (which are considered dangerous), and seismically retrofit the span. Caltrans District 4 doesn't yet have a project page up, but one should be expected soon. The project is slated for completion in 2008.
  • Clinton Basin is also known as Seabreeze Marina, and is in poor shape.
  • The only direct pedestrian links to the site are on The Embarcadero from the west and 5th Avenue from the north. Measure DD funds will allow for trails to be completed from the existing developed channel to the Estuary Park and the mouth of the channel. The areas colored brown and orange are parcels of land that will be needed for this work. They will be needed for the overpass project as well.
  • There is no current AC Transit bus service or other public transportation to this site.
  • The BART route is highlighted in red, with the Lake Merritt BART Station in darker red. BART becomes a subway as it heads west just before 5th Avenue. It then tunnels underneath the Laney College Athletic Fields, Lake Merritt Channel, and the Laney College main buildings.
  • Walking distance from the Lake Merritt BART Station to the site is about 0.8 miles.
  • Jack London Square is 0.5-1.0 miles west of the site.
  • A walk from the Coliseum BART station to Gate D at the McAfee Coliseum is 1/4 mile; to Gate A it's 1/8 mile.
  • A walk from the 19th Street Station to the Uptown site is only 1/10 mile, from the 12th Street Station it's about 1/2 mile.
  • The distance from San Jose's San Pedro Square to the HP Pavilion is also 1/2 mile.
  • A ride on SF Muni's N-Judah from the Embarcadero Station to SBC Park (2nd & King) is 1.4 miles.

Because of the numerous diverse interests that have stakes in the Oak-to-9th development, it would be foolish to predict what will happen. However, I decided to try a hypothetical ballpark drawing to see how small a ballpark could be built on the site. The result looks like this:

  • It doesn't encroach upon the Silveira property
  • It leaves the 9th Ave Terminal side to Signature
  • The orientation of the field allows for a sweeping, panoramic view of Oakland's downtown, hills and Lake Merritt (from the upper deck).
  • The ballpark's footprint (10-11 acres) eats into available open space, and some minimum of open space must be made available for the public. The original Estuary Policy Plan calls for a meadow to be created where the ballpark sits.
  • Height will be over 100 feet at some points and may block views of the bay.

Much more to come.


Kenny said...

What about parking? Well, a 1/2 mile walk from Lake Merrit isn't that bad.

Marine Layer said...

Parking could either be passable or really bad. Because of the open space requirements, a large parking lot will probably not work in any plan. The team would probably ask for some minimum amount of parking, say 1000-1200 spaces. A garage could be built for some portion of that. Also, as mentioned in the photo overview, space underneath the new freeway overpass could be used. I'm guessing maybe 600-800 spaces there as well. A shuttle could be used to get people from garages at JLS, where there should be at least 2000 spaces in newly built garages once the big project there goes through. Let's just say that if a ballpark gets built at the estuary, tailgating days will be over.

Kenny said...

But, if the neightborhood around the proposed ballpark is good, like filled with restaurants and bars, then who needs to tailgate?

Marine Layer said...

Kenny, I'd gladly give up tailgating for some bars and restaurants that I can visit near the ballpark on a regular basis. I can't tailgate before every game, but I can definitely head to a local pub after every game.

Mr. Oakland said...

How about using the parking lots at Laney College?

Also, the Lake Merritt Channel is going to be upgraded as a landscaped link between Lake Merritt, the Estuary and JLS. This would make for a pleasant stroll from the Kaiser Auditorium and Laney College parking lots. Also, another potential site for more parking would be near the soccer field next to Estuary Park directly across from the proposed ballpark site. There is a food warehouse on a site which could be used for parking.

Marine Layer said...

It's not certain what will happen with the Laney parking lots. Peralta CCD has been trying to develop portions of the Laney property for some time now, including the athletic fields and parking lots. Children's Hospital may relocate there. A plan to build parking, apartments, and offices on the grounds was scrapped last month, though because of the statewide budget crunch, expect the district to start talks up again pretty soon. Ballpark parking could provide a nice little extra revenue stream for the district, maybe $250K or more per year.

As for the Cash and Carry Warehouse, it's a big question mark. The city owns the land and they want to develop it to enhance Estuary Park, but it's unclear what would be put there. They could put a surface lot there and expand the soccer field a bit if they wanted. A garage would defeat the purpose of getting rid of the warehouse. Plus there would be costs associated with relocating the existing business.