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30 March 2006

Fremont in the news

Last night Lew Wolff spoke at a Washington Township Men's Club function, which was held at the Fremont Elks Lodge. He was there rubbing elbows and selling the plan to Fremont business and civic leaders. Merc reporter Barry Witt has a must-read recap, including greater detail of what Wolff's vision is than what we've heard publicly. (For the record, I haven't heard that much privately.)

Wolff discussed a many-faceted plan:

  • Work with Cisco to get control of the parcel Cisco controls within Pacific Commons.
  • Get entitlements from Fremont to build the ballpark and the mixed-use ballpark village plan. This includes some 2,000 housing units, from which some portion of profits would provide $200 million towards a ballpark.
  • Scope out Fremont's requirements to provide services to this new area.
  • Figure out how to get 15,000 parking spaces on the property along with the ballpark and other development.
  • Work with city and transit officials to complete a usable mass transit infrastructure (shuttles from BART and buses at this point).

Here's an updated picture that shows the lay of the land (10:28 PM - changed to reflect land that can be developed and land that is protected):

Now let's address these issues one-by-one.

Cisco: Cisco currently has no way of pushing the conversion of its industrial-zoned land to residential or mixed-use. It also has an option to purchase the land and a long leasehold. They are interested in having land available for future expansion should it be required, so they may not be willing to simply sell without getting something back.

Limited land size: 143 acres sounds like a lot, but not when parking is factored in. A typical surface parking lot has around 125 parking spaces per acre (The Coliseum complex is roughly 100 acres) . To get 15,000 spaces, 120 acres would have to be devoted to parking - the typical endless sea suburban model. Since that's not likely, some garages will have to be built. The ballpark will take up 15 acres. Streets and parks may take up another 15-25 acres. Wolff may want to place a hotel on the site. There would be an undetermined amount of commercial activity as well, though the existing Pacific Commons shopping center would cover some of that. Given all of these space requirements, it's easy to see how difficult it could be put it all together. A previous news item points to land in Dublin that could be used for the housing requirement, though that's another issue altogether.

Transportation: Other than a planned Amtrak/ACE station to the west of Pacific Commons, there are no existing plans to bring rail-based mass transit to the area. BART isn't going to expand to the west. Event-based shuttles are probably the most feasible option at this point. If BART's Warm Springs Extension (WSX) gets funding, service could start by 2010 or shortly thereafter. MTC and BART are still trying to figure it out. WSX is also dependent on the San Jose BART extension being approved, so there's still a lot of stuff to figure out there.

Fremont's growth and land use: Having 2,000 new units built means introducing 5,000 new residents to an area that has little infrastructure. There will have to be a mixture of medium-density and high-density development, perhaps even towers. Fremont will have to assess the costs of provide the full range of city services, including fire and police. Housing is expected to be sold or rented at market rates, so there probably aren't any huge risks of increased crime. Environmental issues are bound to crop up. Original landowner Catellus (now part of warehousing giant ProLogis) ended up with a smaller development plan than what they initially wanted, including the protection of over 1,200 acres of wetlands - much of it offsite. The introduction of residential could cause that agreement to be reopened and may shape the final development plan. Traffic will also be a driving force since Pacific Commons is only a couple miles north of one of the largest bottlenecks in the Bay Area, the 880/Mission Blvd/680 interchanges. The revamped 880/Mission interchange is scheduled for completion in 2008, but there will be some negative impacts from ballpark-related traffic.

The good thing about this is that there are plenty of options to get this kind of development done. Conditions may dictate a compact, reduced-sprawl model. There are also smaller issues such as where to place the ballpark on the site to allow for paid parking when a large retail center with free parking is nearby. Just because the parties are moving quickly doesn't mean they won't be thorough. There's one more extremely important factor: the way it's shaping up, a public vote won't be required.

24 comments:

jrbh said...

It would be an absolute disgrace to build a new ballpark anywhere that's not served directly by BART.

peanut gallery said...

Another typically thorough job ML. Question: how will they avoid a vote? I get the part about it being a transaction between private parties, but when entitlements and infrastructure improvements (presumably paid for at least in part by the city) come into play, wouldn't voter approval be required?

Anonymous said...

"Future BART"...lol..I have been a BART rider for 20 years. That station has been a "Future" station for atleast 15 years.

Anonymous said...

Voter approval is a San Jose thing, not a Fremont thing.

Have you read the Business Times article also?

tony d. said...

R.M.,
Are the bay wetlands part of the Pac Commons "red shade?" And how would you foresee a ballpark orientation (facing east, southeast, or south)?

Anonymous said...

THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLFF!!!!

WOFF NEVER CARED ABOUT OAKLAND!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"WOFF NEVER CARED ABOUT OAKLAND!!!!!"


And vice versa . . . . . .

Anonymous said...

How did Wolff care about Oakland?

Anonymous said...

If Wolff moves the team to Fremont, he's pissing on the legacy of the late, great Walter Haas of keeping the team in Oakland.

There's No A in Fremont!!!!!

Jeff said...

The future becomes a little more clear. The question that remains is whether Fremont recieves a legitimate shot at the team. That the A's are leaving Oakland should be fairly obvious at this point. Demonizing Wolfe serves no purpose. If Oakland were serious about the A's, he would have been serious about Oakland.

ML, what is the approximate distance from the Fremont station to the proposed ballpark and the distance from the WSX to the park?

It will be interesting to observe SJ's reaction. Indeed, their reaction could be revealing. This is a wonderful opportunity for Fremont.

Georob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Georob said...

Walter Haas legacy will live on by keeping the A's in Alameda County, for it was he that OK'd the Giants territorial rights in San Jose. Without them, I'd guess the A's would already be playing there if not close to it.

I have to say that I agree with JRBH's lament about no BART access in Fremont. Perhaps he's having second thoughts, as I though he'd NEVER go to a Fremont A's games under any circumstances. If so, welcome back, friend!

Finally, congratulations to you Rhamesis for Blez' plug of this site on Athletics Nation:

http://www.athleticsnation.com/story/2006/3/30/17327/3715

Zonis said...

What about that empty land on the right? Could THAT be used for parking? Wouldn't it be plausable to put parking over there and put a bridge over the road for pedestrians?

I think we all really knew that the A's were leaving Oakland. Oakland just doesn't care about the A's. Its simple as that. They said it themselves.

But if the A's leave the Bay Area (doubtful, as there is no where to go that is better then the Bay Area, unless we'll be rooting fort he Mexico City Athletics) I will hate Wolffe's gutts.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything Zonis wrote.

jrbh said...

No, if the A's move to Fremont, they're dead to me whether they're across the street from a BART station or completely inaccessible from BART.

But regardless of how I feel about it, building a ballpark on one of the most congested roads in the U.S. and ignoring mass transit in the process, well, that's not morally or ecologically right, it's a slap in the face of a huge part of the A's current fanbase, and it's not right in terms of marketing, unless your only consideration is the personal pocketbooks of Wolff and Fischer.

Wolff is a disaster.

gojohn10 said...

I was checking out the area on Google maps and I noticed the bay view would show off some pretty colorful salt ponds. Interesting, but maybe it's best if they stick with a view of the hills.

picture link

Anonymous said...

Walter Haas' legacy is Keeping the team in OAKLAND!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The trend in baseball is Urban parks, not suburban parks. Fremont is another Arlington, Texas situation. The A's are best off in OAKLAND. Oakland has supported the A's better than Tampa Bay, Florida, Pittsburgh, Detroit, etc. People tend to forget this. Also, Oakland has cared about the keeping the A's. Robert Bobb worked hard with trying to bring a new ballpark in Oakland. Oakland spent $200,000 on a HOK study. People forget this. Former Oakland councilman, Dick Spees spearheaded a group of businessmen for a ballpark taskforce. This is the stuff that people forget. Oakland has not been passive as people like to claim. As for Wolff and Schott, they never cared about Oakland. They had the hidden agenda of trying to relocate the A's in San Jose.

peanut gallery said...

I read an article in the SF Biz Times and another in the SJ Biz Times. But neither explained how Fremont can avoid a vote. Maybe I'm being dense (wouldn't be the first time).

Marine Layer said...

Much of the infrastructure for the area has already been built, and since Fremont is not going to support any bond measures for construction, no vote will be necessary. It will simply be a rezoning change and an approval of the development, which can be done entirely within City Hall.

peanut gallery said...

So in this case the entitlements come in the form of rezoning property after Wolfe takes title to it (the change of which itself would make him a tidy profit). As opposed to Oakland where he was looking more or less for free land. So there you have it, I was being dense. Thanks!

drummer510 said...

There never gonna built in Fremont, it's just another opportunity for Wolff to tell his Frat brother Selig, that he tried in the East Bay, so selig lets him go to Vegas.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. The A's will be gone if they don't move to Fremont. The purists better decide that they would rather have no team in Alameda County (except for the Raiders, extensive subsidized by tax-payers) or the Warriors. Oakland is too absorb in its murder rate to offer anything close to Fremont. As far as the stubborn fans of Oakland go...hey, good riddance... welcome San Jose fans.

carter27 said...

Why the hell would you move a baseball team to a different city,
thats possibly the dumbest thing to do, A's fans are already getting mad of the thought of the team moving, yea it may not be extremely far from Oakland, but FREMONT! Fremont is just a regular old town, Oakland is a big city with dedicated A's fans that have been supporting the team for years.
Why move when there are other options like the uptown urban plan, or the jack london square plan, both which would be great and scenic places, If getting bigger crowds to the games is the problem alls that should be done is a new stadium in OAKLAND! It worked for the Giants, why not the A's. On top of everything the oakland athletics have brought home plenty of world series wins to Oakland, and has raised some of the best players major league baseball has ever had, So please keep the A's in Oakland.