05 July 2005

Driving around Oakland for more sites

After Sunday's 7-2 comeback win over the ChiSox (I donned a rally cap in the sixth), I drove around Oakland looking for pieces of land that might be large enough to hold a ballpark. The requirements were:

  • 10 acres or larger
  • Near BART, freeways, or both
  • Ownership by the state, county, city, or 1-2 private owners max
  • No existing development plans

I couldn't vouch for the last requirement completely, so I went on a hunch, along with some knowledge I already had about some of the neighborhoods I visited. Here are three sites:

West Oakland BART
  • Location: 5th/7th St between Kirkham St and Union St. Slightly over 1 mile west of Jack London Square. 600 ft. east of West Oakland BART station.
  • Size: 7-8 acres. No room for expansion unless street grid is severely modified. Can't expand to south because of BART overhead right-of-way and exit and entry ramps to I-880.
  • The land is mostly owned by the state. The site is the southern end of the demolished Cypress structure, most of which is now Mandela Parkway. The land remains undeveloped.
  • Advantages: Parking in the area already exists. Few if any displacement issues.
  • Disadvantages: Little development potential immediately surrounding ballpark except for low-income housing and basic services. Small, narrow lot poses design issues.

I-880/980 Junction
  • Location: Brush St between 6th and 7th St. 1/2 mile west of JLS. 1/3 mile west of nearest BART station (12th Street)
  • Size: 4 acres at most. No room for expansion unless street grid is severely modified.
  • Not clear who owns the land, but it looks like there is a single owner.
  • Advantages: Central location, BART potential exists. Parking available nearby. Additional parking could be developed under 880 skyway.
  • Disadvantages: No existing BART station nearby. Site is too small, even with annexed streets.

Near Estuary
  • Location: Fallon St between I-880/4th St andThe Embarcadero. 1/3 mile east of JLS. 1/3 mile south of Lake Merritt BART station.
  • Size: 10+ acres. Some room for expansion if street grid is modified.
  • Land owned by some public entities (BART, Peralta CCD, City of Oakland) and private (Breznikar family/East Bay Restaurant Supply, others).
  • Advantages: Near waterfront, JLS, BART, Amtrak, and I-880.
  • Disadvantages: Limited parking immediately available. Some businesses would have to be displaced. Site is less accessible than desired because of railroad tracks, Fallon St dead-end at I-880.

None of the sites fit all of the criteria, which highlights the difficulty involved in putting together a ballpark plan.


Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the proposed site just south of the coliseum area (not the coliseum parking lot)?

Anonymous said...


Site D (4th & Fallon)to which it is refered to in the Oak to Ninth redevelopement project is an excellent waterfront site (Embarcadero Cove) for the ballpark. The site is certainly large enough with roughly 25.25ac within the ORA specific planning area. I however disagree with your site visit/ observations, There's plenty of parking under Hwy 880 between Jackson and Oak strees and the Laney college parking lots. I would like to see further study on Site D and it's impact on the surrounding area. In particular the feasibility of constructing a parking garage with ground floor retail on the laney college surface parking lot which is adjacent to the prosed site.

Marine Layer said...

The Dones project at Laney, which died a little over a month ago, would have addressed some of the parking needs with a large high-rise garage. It would have been built on top of the existing student lot. It's possible the project could come back in some form since faculty and students alike support expanded parking there, but there's no timeline or land use plan to guide development. If a 6-story structure were built there, it would probably support up to 2,500 cars. That's a good start, but that's only 1/3 of the 8,000 that would be needed within 1/2 mile of the ballpark. Add to that the existing and planned lots/garages at JLS, and it comes to 4,000+ spaces. Other land could be acquired immediately surrounding the ballpark site to build a garage, but that will drive up cost. Since Oakland's CEDA has been throwing money left and right at the Uptown project, no one should assume there will be anything left for a ballpark unless other projects were tabled.

Anonymous said...

We greatly appreciate your desire and time taken to seek ballpark sites. They all sound good and honestly have more advantages than disadvantages. My only question is how can you communicate all this to the A's? I mean,they sound good to us, but what can we really do if the A's know nothing of these sites?

Marine Layer said...

Well, first and foremost, I hope that I don't have to present proposals to the A's to get them moving in the right direction. They have their venue development committee for that, and it should take no more than a few phone calls and site visits for them to get much more information than I have. Wolff has a direct line to De La Fuente, as well as many local mayors and other politicians, so it shouldn't take more than one or two calls a month to these guys to get a complete assessment of the development landscape in the area. If I get the sense that the A's are not progressing as they should, then I might transform this blog into more of an advocacy site. Until then, I'll stick to disseminating news and providing analysis.

Peanut Gallery said...

Marine Layer - I posted this in another thread, but you may have missed it:

One potential location I have heard nothing about (and I'm sure there is a reason for this) is Alameda. There is a huge plot of land on the western tip of the island that the Navy no longer uses. Why couldn't this be cleaned up and used for a new ball park? It would have the most stunning views of both downtown Oakland and the city.

Besides clean-up, which will have to be done regardless, and traffic issues, for which I have no solution, are there other reasons that spot isn't being considered?

Marine Layer said...

The only problem with Alameda is the lack of transit infrastructure. Unfortunately, that is a MAJOR issue. I drove around Alameda on my trip as well, including a quick visit to Encinal High and Willie Stargell Field, where both Dontrelle Willis and Jimmy Rollins played.

Alameda is entertaining ideas regarding a small public transportation system that would cover the island out to Alameda Point, where the old Naval Air Station is. But there's nothing large-scale like a BART extension being discussed, as it would be extremely expensive. Most of the stuff under discussion is light rail, tram services, and personal rapid transit.

Since there's virtually no chance of a new bridge or tunnel being built to handle additional traffic, Alameda would have a difficult time handling vehicular traffic as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Alameda "Island" would be a good alternative, and that "light" rail (a misnomer if there ever was one) needs to go from the West Oakland station to and around Alameda Island. And better yet, to OAK airport! The AirBART is tortuous, but could also be a type of solution for an Alameda stadium (park JLS/Laney, no parking at the stadium, buses routed through "always green light" route to stadium 90 minutes before/after game.)

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