20 June 2006

Estuary plan moves forward

After a long give-and-take process between developer Signature Properties and Oakland-based environmental and affordable housing groups, the long-awaited Estuary (Oak-to-Ninth) development appears to be moving forward. Only a city council vote next Tuesday remains, and once that happens, you can officially cross one more site (one touted by Ignacio De La Fuente last year) off the list.

I was excited by the Estuary site last year as well, at least until I understood the grueling process it took to get to the actual planning of the development. This included passing legislation at the state level to approve of the land sale and numerous hearings with the aforementioned community groups so that they could have a say in the plan. Issues such as the height and placement of buildings as they related to the view from the hills, the amount of public parkland, traffic, and the preservation of historic structures all came into play.

One of the keys to getting this deal done was Signature's willingness to pay for site cleanup. However, they got a huge discount in the land price as a result. The Estuary plan's size makes it a better comparison to a potential Wolff-Fisher development somewhere than anything else in the works in the Bay Area. Compromises were made by all parties to get it done, and it took a long gestation period (ongoing). One neat little concession is that Signature is going to allow around 15% of the housing to be termed low income and senior housing - but it doesn't have to build it all at the Estuary. It could shift some of the units to one of its other Oakland projects, though it would have to build more of them. Considering the prime waterfront location, this shift sounds likely.


Georob said...

There's really only one site in Oakland as far as I'm concerned, and that's at the Coliseum. Freeway, BART, all there.

You can use the existing site, hopefully purchase the Coliseum South/Home Base/White Front(for those old enough to remember) property along Hegenberger, and if you still need more land, perhaps acquire just a couple of pieces across 66th Ave instead of that whole Coliseum North disaster.

Then you can do your stadium, a ballpark village, parking structures, and regular surface parking for tailgaters at the far end of the complex.

Problem is that you have to involve the Raiders and Warriors, and this is where Ron Dellums could do what Jerry Brown couldn't:
Call a summit meeting with Al Davis, Lew Wolff, Chris Cohan, and the JPA and MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

Lew Wolff has to at least consider this before he closes the book on Oakland for good. And if he won't, then perhaps the "conspiracy theorsists" were right in saying that Wolff never wanted to build in Oakland at all.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe the conspiracy theories about Wolf are fair or warranted. I think the Baseball village would never work out at the Coliseum or the North site. I do not think there is a market for high priced condos in East Oakland.
Everyone seems to forget or does not want to mention that the Coliseum is located in a heavy industrial area, but is also next to one of the highest crime areas in all the bay area. I do not think that is where the yuppie hipster types that would buy a condo at a ballpark would want to live. I think there are other areas of Oakland where the ball park village may work out but not along the San Leandro Street corridor.
I always thought the Oak Knoll hospital property would be a great place to put a new ballpark with the only real negative to this no BART access and dealing with the Defence department. But 580 is literally right there and I think I remember (on this blog maybe) reading something along the lines that only 10% of A's attendance takes BART. But I think it was sold to a private party recently and the Oakland city concil really dropped the ball with not buying Oak Knoll at a serious discount. Maybe M.L. can shed some light there. But my point is the ballpark village needs to be located in a better part of Oakland if it is ever going to happen at all.

Anonymous said...

I do not think the above poster has the best arguement as far as the whole "condo" situation. West Oakland is way more impoverished than East Oakland. West Oakland has one of the largest public housing sites in the city. Yet, condos arise everywhere. Big business folks want underpriveledge, underserved and low income communities. It's called gentrification.

peanut gallery said...

The Coliseum area is changing. Look to the northeast of the BART station. Housing is already creeping into this area. It's part of a large redevelopment area, the plan for which includes the introduction of more housing. I think it could definitely work if there are some new amenities to entice people to live there. Ameneties like you'd find in a ballpark village.

Anonymous said...

One of Jerry Brown's accomplishments was to actual invest redevelopment money and city energy into neglected areas of East Oakland. The Hegenberger road corridor and Alameda-side of the 880 freeway in that area are products of that. The Coliseum BART station area is PRIME for development. It is largely vacant of residential and is NOT a dangerous neighborhood akin to 73rd and Bancroft or the emeryville/berkeley/oakland triangle. Increased business and housing or ANY human presence, really, will improve the area.

Further, it is much easier to get support in Oakland for such a project if it is seen to benefit more of the city as a whole rather than only downtown or an already functioning area of town.

Marine Layer said...

Wolff has never cared one way or another about the conspiracy theorists or theories. He's going to go his own way.

Gentrification will happen in East Oakland, but that will happen slowly, involving a lot of debate about the history and future of Oakland as a whole. Does it want to retain what's left of its dwindling manufacturing base? Does it want to convert those areas into incubators for emerging technologies? Does it want to become a bedroom community? How much subsidized public housing does it want to hold? A 100+ acre development sets a precedent there and there's no turning back.

Oak Knoll has an ideal size, but its location away from BART and near the truck-unfriendly 580 would have caused an uproar among NIMBYs. 15-20% of attendees take BART to each game.

Anonymous said...

On close inspection it appears that the BART parking lot at the Coliseum station could fit a baseball stadium. There looks to be more acreage than the ATT park footprint and in a less-awkward shape. It does run up against residential but that is where the city can come in.

Car parking for BART can move to the Coliseum-side of San Leandro St, possibly re-locating one or more of the industrial businesses one block north and south of the station to the current parking lot for the Coliseum as a trade-off.

Re-locating those businesses would enable real development to occur around that station to complement the new ballpark. The existing lots can continue to be used, utilizing the already-existing people bridge with minor improvements.

The BART station would then drop off IMMEDIATELY at the ballpark. There is already a tunnel below the station to that parking lot that could also be used.

I expect that the residential properties ont he opposite side of the BART parking lot would be easier to acquire than functioning businesses in the original "ballpark village" plan. Wolff could be given rights to the cleared land immediately opposite the BART station at a cost to the city of relocating those few businesses. In addition there are numerous residential locations he could be offered.

Marine Layer said...

Interesting idea. I'll try to do a mockup of a ballpark in the parking lot area.

jrbh said...

That's the strangest thing; I was looking at the BART Coliseum parking lot and thinking the exact same thing: a ballpark would be perfect right here.

jrbh said...

Looking at it last week, I mean.

Anonymous said...

Yea, but the Coliseum BART Parking lot is surrounded by houses.

Georob said...

And what happens when some little old lady decides she wants a billion dollars for her 800 sq foot pre WWII bungalow across the street from the Coliseum BART station?

Given the choice between using eminent domain and working with Al Davis, I think I'd choose the latter, and so should Lew Wolff.
Get the stadium built in the current Coliseum complex and use the BART parking lot for what it is now: PARKING!

Kevin said...

One question we need to keep in mind is whether Oakland is in fact the right place for the ballpark. Remember one of Wolff's concerns going back to his news conference last August was whether Oakland had the corporate/business base to support a new ballpark. He was uncertain back then, and I think, given the attendance figures thus far, he's uncertain now.

Georob said...

People seem to forget that the A's are a BAY AREA team, as well as an Oakland team. Obviously, it's important to have a corporate base close to where your team plays, which is why the South Bay is so attractive. But Lew Wolff knows full well that he's going to need corporate help from all over Northern California, no matter where the stadium winds up.

I get into trouble every time I say this, but the Giants have a big advantage in this respect because they're labeled "San Francisco". No matter how many on this and other blogs claim that they have no identity with SF, the fact remains that the corporate community DOES identify this as the "SAN FRANCISCO Bay Area"

Which gives the Giants and 49'ers a leg up on marketing without lifting a finger.

Anonymous said...

Funny to hear because I've never heard anyone call the Giants a "Bay Area" team. Since when have the A's been a Bay Area team? When they moved to Oakland, they called themselves the OAKLAND A's. The only team you can really say is the Bay Area's is the Warriors.

Kevin said...

I agree with georob on this one. Maybe it's because I live on the peninsula, and I listen to KNBR a lot, but it sure seems as though the Giants get the lion's share of attention and media coverage. I think it has more to do with the location of the team, rather than it's name. Despite what residents of SJ may think, SF will always be viewed as the "hub" of the Bay Area.

V Smoothe said...

West Oakland is way more impoverished than East Oakland. West Oakland has one of the largest public housing sites in the city. Yet, condos arise everywhere.

Actually, this is incorrect. West Oakland is nowhere near as poor as East Oakland. West Oakland is largely working class, whereas much of East Oakland is deeply, deeply entrenched in poverty. They are monumentally different areas. And most of the new condos being built in West Oakland are priced around $200,000-$300,000, less than half the median home price in Oakland, and similar to the median home prices in the neighborhoods. What Wolff is talking about is a whole different thing - a much more expensive condo and a much different type of buyer.

I'd love the see the A's stay in Oakland, but Dellums's victory has made me abandon almost all hope. Whatever the case is, I think that its essential the new stadium is easily accessible via public transit.

Bleacher Dave said...

I think V smoothe sums it up well. The housing development on E 14th (one of the most notorious street names in the Bay Area) on the site of the former Durant square not only overcame the naysayers that said no one would buy on crime ridden E 14th St in crime stricken East Oakland but has experienced startling price appreciation. By turning its back on E 14th, and orienting itself toward San Leandro this project has turned out to be a HUGE success. I hate to endorse a development turning its back on a major thoroughfare, but it beats no development.

Something similar could happen near the Coliseum, but vision is necessary. For where there is no vision, the people shall perish.

Georob said...

This West Oakland vs East Oakland stuff is all nonsense. Either way, we're talking about URBAN development; and whether it be Oakland, SF, Berkeley, or wherever people know what they're buying into and that there's going to be a higher exposure to street crime than in most suburbs. This is why you have gates, guards, and security cameras in most of these places.

It's a tradeoff for living in the city, and those that don't want to be near any type of "undesirabale urban element" probably wouldn't consider anywhere in Oakland city limits to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Well, that just shows that you're bias. Plenty of new stadiums and arenas have been built in "undesirable urban elements". Most cities nationwide have both good and bad areas. But I think it's quite harsh to say that all of Oakland is unsafe and undesirable.

Georob said...

Anonymous, perception is reality. And you can pull out every piece of evidence to the contrary and it won't change the fact that Oakland has a reputation(deserved or not) as a high crime area.

Folks like Ignacio De La Fuente campaign specifically to "Clean up the streets" while others realize that changing perceptions doesn't happen overnight and it's best to attack the issue by focusing on a "quality of life" platform.

But when I spoke of "undesirable urban elements", I was referring to why peopel would or wouldn't live in an urban baseball village.

Call me biased if you want, but until I start seeing families with kids moving into these new urban developments in large numbers, you have a significant demographic group that will never consider Oakland.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that Detroit, Baltimore, and Cleveland's owners, who have relatively new ballparks, care about "perceptions"?

Georob said...

Again, I'm talking about whether one would want tp LIVE in an urban area, meaning the ballpark village. Attending a ball game is different, as you then get to go back home afterwards, wherever that is.

I'm not going to dissect why and how Oakland has the reputation it has, except to say that the reputation is there, deserved or not.

What I'm seeing in Anonymous' comments is pretty typical of Oakland defenders in that they get defensive and start crying "unfair","bias", and "discrimination", instead of figuring ways to overcome the perceptions and sell the community.

But you can't force someone to like your town if they don't want to

Anonymous said...

Who's trying to force you to like my town? You don't even know where I live. Oakland already has half a million residents who like it. All I am trying to say is that you should re-think your opinion. All of Oakland is not like what you see on the 10 and 11 o'clock news. Oakland has beautiful neighborhoods, shopping districts, and culture unmatched in the Bay Area. Yes, Oakland has plenty of problems, problems that are worth attention and need immediate fixing. BUT THE WHOLE CITY IS NOT LIKE THAT.

And for the whole urban setting thing, again, I point to West Oakland. West Oakland is predominantly working class African-Americans. Recently however, newer condos and apartments have arisen and the primary new residents are middle-upper class White Americans. I can't be sure, but I assume that's the group you say "wouldn't want to LIVE in an urban area".

Anonymous said...

Why should Oakland worry about the perception of people in the suburbs or San Jose or somewhere? Oakland has plenty of residents, former residents and visitors. These people know Oakland, know that it is a great place to live. "Development" does not require people from out of town gentrifying districts.

Georob said...

Oakland doesn't need to "worry" about its perceptions, but it does need to be AWARE of them as long as the city is trying to attract new business and new residents.

It's always best to be pro-active, and Oakland needs to highlight its attributes in such a way that people will come there in spite of the negatives. For example, San Francisco and LA have plenty of urban crime, but yet you don't hear the words "high crime" as much in relation to those cities as you do Oakland, and part of that is becuase those cities are known for other things besides robberies and murders.

I'll agree another part of this is race. The Trib's Brenda Peyton is fond of saying that "Everything in Oakland has something to do with race". While I think that's an oversimplification, she does have a point.

But what can you do about it? Make it a hate crime to not locate your home or business in Oakland because your friends at the country club think the city's a "liitle too dark"?

The perception's there. It's been there a long time, and is not going away any time soon. Perhaps it will change in 50 years, but for now Oakland needs to address it's problems and do what it can to MAKE people want to come there.

Having an attitude like: "We like this city as it is" is simply being in denial and doesn't do Oakland any good at all.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you say that big businesses don't want to come to Oakland? Then why did Ask Jeeves recently move it's headquarters out there. Why is Clorox out there? Why almost everywhere you go in Oakland, you see construction going on? I think you need to just get in your car and ride around Oakland. If you do that, than you will see that the sensationalized "perceptions" are not as true as many believe. Oakland is one of those cities where most of the time, if you don't mess with them, they won't mess with you. Sure, Oakland boast a significant African-American population, but that doesn't mean that's the reason why nothing can't get done there. Take cities like Atlanta and Houston for example. Both cities are new dwelling places for African-Americans/Minorities, yet both cities have great media and business happenings out there.

My advice to you is to not let the media satisfy your appetite, because most likely you'll get too full of the bullcrap they serve. Take a look at Oakland for yourself, interact with the residents, don't be ignorant! Do you think that the companies that have moved to Oakland did it based on a "perception"? No, they looked at the bigger picture, which is Oakland is a diamond in the rough.

Anonymous said...

oakland would prefer to be itself rather than what you want it to be or what everyone else is doing. most of the "media perception" against oakland is about san jose and san francisco insecurity.

Kevin said...

Every urban area has its problems. Whether true or not, Oakland has a perception problem. To simply blame it on the media and not do anything about it will not make the problem go away. I think what georob is saying is that leaders and residents must take steps to try and change that perception.

This may be a bad example but the Japanese auto industry had a problem in the late 60s, early 70s. The perception was that the autos they built were not very reliable, and of poor quality. They decided that in order for them to be gobally competative, they needed to take steps to change that perception. It didn't happen over night, but we are now to the point where many will argue that Japanese autos are more reliable that domestic autos.

Problem or not, perception is everyting.

Anonymous said...

Well Oakland IS trying. Let's see, Oakland hired more police. Oakland also has plenty of community groups trying to make things safer. What else can they do?

Anonymous said...

kevin - few would argue that japanese automobiles are NOT more reliable than domestic cars.

Anonymous said...

ML, I'm having blog post withdrawl. Any updates? Thanks again for all your great work.

Anonymous said...


I'm having blog post withdrawl. Any updates. Thanks for all your great work.

Marine Layer said...

Sorry folks, news has been non-existent. Thankfully it's coincided with my trips overseas the last three weeks. Here in Australia it's all rugby, aussie rules, and for now soccer.

I'll be back at the end of the week, and I'll post a couple of articles and a that BART lot mockup.

Anonymous said...

Hey Marinelayer,
Just curious..does the Sydney Rugby team have territorial rights over the Melbourne market? Try explaining to the Aussies that if they had our system of "corporate monopoly" and greed, Melbourne would be banned from having a Rugby team because one exists in Sydney.