27 February 2007

A Toxic Cloud Over A's Town

KCBS and the Merc have stories on Scott Specialty Gases, a business on 5121 Brandin Court in Fremont. SSG's Electronic Materials Group is located there, and it supplies various semiconductor firms with gases used in manufacturing. According to Fremont officials, Wolff and Co. would have to pay to relocate SSG away from the ballpark village.

The shock value comes from mitigation measures already in place at Pacific Commons, in which various nearby stores (Kohl's, Office Depot) would have to shut down their ventilation systems in the event of a toxic cloud or leak. Since the ballpark would be open air, no such mitigation would be possible - leading to the need to relocate the business.

Even if the danger is slim, the concern is well-placed. The articles only cover the possibility of arsine (yes, it's related to arsenic) or chlorine gas endangering crowds at Cisco Field. But with the introduction of a new residential neighborhood, it's residents that would have to be just as worried, if not moreso. So yes, SSG most certainly has to be moved to make the project work.

Is it a showstopper? I think not. While SSG has been at the current location since 1985, it's not a business that forces it to be fixed. It's a distribution facility, not a plant, so we're not talking about uprooting manufacturing facilities or potential groundwater leaks. It's a fairly nondescript industrial building with no tanks (correction: there are a few tanks outside) or smokestacks outside. In other words, it's not a Tosco or Chevron. That's no to say there aren't special facilities built in to properly store the chemicals - it's just that it's merely a cost to be factored into the relocation. And that has to be the real sticking point. There's plenty of land and other buildings elsewhere in Fremont's Industrial zone that can be utilized for SSG's relocation.

It's all a matter of price. The property is assessed at $1,954,210 including improvements for slightly more than 1 acre. I've seen a CBRE listing for a 4.65-acre property with a 76,500-s.f. building for $5.7 million, so the SSG property has to be worth less even with relocation costs included. SSG is a national firm, not some mom-and-pop, so don't expect them to get fleeced. Wolff's known for his negotiating skills. We'll see how long it takes, but it will happen. Remember that there are a handful of businesses in the area that will need to be relocated for this project. Personally, I'd much rather deal with a handful than dozens, as would have been the case with Coliseum North. Not to be ignored is the fact that Fremont has stood firm on its stance that these types of costs have to be borne by the developer.


Anonymous said...

So it sounds like it's basically a storage facilty/warehouse that can be moved elsewhere anytime. I'm sure if we all knew and worried about what dangerous substance is stored or manufactured " downwind " from ANY industrial zone ( or in those neighborhood storage places like SafKeep or Public Storage ), we'd be living in a cave in Wyoming .

Oakland Si said...

certainly, most of us live near potentially dangerous areas that could in theory harm us.

The more important issue is that one way or another this potential hazard cannot be so close to a residential complex and open-air ballpark. That is the law. One way or another it adds $$$ to this proposal.

Dean M. said...

One would think the "Toxic Cloud" issue would have surfaced before when Cisco were planning an office complex at that location

Jeffrey said...

It isn't new from what I ahve read. This was brought up in the initial exploratory meetings with the city government. I can't believe that Wolff would be buying the land if they ahven't already started negotiating the move and have a good feeling about it.

Oakland Sí said...

the original plan for a Cisco office park would of course have needed a contingency plan. However, this becomes more detailed and expensive when plans are for an open-air ballpark and residential housing.