04 December 2008

All you need to know about Warm Springs, Part II

We'll start off with a pleasant image, courtesy Google Earth/Panoramio user Typeaux.

That's the view east towards the Fremont Hills from what could be considered the northeast corner of the planned Warm Springs BART station. Next, a map (also from Google Earth):

Pros compared to Pacific Commons:
  1. BART. Regardless of which parcel is chosen for a ballpark, it will be within a few hundred feet of the Warm Springs BART station, which is expected to start construction next year and open in June 2014. That's two years from the planned opening of Cisco Field, but it's better than not having BART.
  2. Site relative to freeways. Sandwiched between 880 and 680, 4 different exits are available to service the area. From Oakland/Hayward, 880 South to Auto Mall Pkwy. From Tri-Valley, 680 South to Auto Mall/Durham. From Santa Clara County, either 880 North to Fremont Blvd. or 680 North to Mission Blvd.
Cons compared to Pacific Commons:
  1. Insufficient area road system. 4 different freeway exits are nice until they all funnel into two narrow roads, Warm Springs Blvd. and Grimmer Blvd. Currently, Warm Springs is only a two-lane road near the BART station, which will be widened to 4 lanes in conjunction with the station's construction. If they plan to put the parking on the Westwood parcel, it will be gridlock hell.
  2. Proximity to NUMMI. That gridlock, which will probably be spelled out in the EIR, won't make NUMMI happy. Grimmer Blvd. in particular is an important surface road that contains an entry into the plant. A NUMMI spokesman talks of a "win-win" for the plant and the team, but it's hard to see that happening unless either major concessions are made to NUMMI or the plant itself closes down. Neither option sounds palatable or cheap.
  3. Proximity to a local neighborhood. There is a reasonably well-heeled residential neighborhood just east of 680. It's accessible from Grimmer Blvd., a potential source of gridlock. Granted, residents already have to deal with the freeway so noise shouldn't be that big an issue. The ballpark is only going to make it worse. Light pollution from the ballpark could also be a nuisance.
  4. Proximity to the Hayward Fault. The BART station is only 0.5 miles from a known active trace of the Hayward Fault. The stadium may be even closer.
  5. Land cost. The Merc has a new editorial that paints the Warm Springs site as a nearly perfect place that will allow A's fans to suddenly ditch cars. Only 15-20% currently take BART to A's games. That means 80% or more drive. They'll continue to drive. It's nice to be able to take some cars off the roads, but let's be realistic. It translates to a reduction of roughly 2,000 cars per game. An improvement, yes, but not paradigm-shifting in the least. For that 80% of fans, around 10,000 spaces will be needed. If they don't build a single garage and rely entirely on surface parking, 78 acres will need to be acquired to accommodate the parking need. That won't be cheap.
I must sound like a nattering nabob. It's not intentional. I point these issues out because when you solve one problem (BART), you open up the possibility of other problems. That's exactly what the Warm Springs site does, given the current situation.


Jeffrey said...

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. I like the idea of BART being close to the stadium, but I was also very excited about the idea of the village... More the retail then the housing honestly (I wasn't planning a move to Fremont).

So is it possible to fit a BART station, a Baseball stadium, sufficient parking and something like the retail village that was going to surround the original plan on the land available?

If so, sign me up!

Anonymous said...

interesting how quickly wolff abandons village concept - I know it's possible that village could be built later, but I mean ballpark right in middle of village ... seems to me the whole thing's pretty shaky. I'm betting it doesn't happen (ballpark or village) due to financial situation.

LeAndre said...

I have to get something off my chest, this whole situation is starting to get a little confusing...

One of the biggest proclaimed problems, if not the biggest, about all the Oakland ballpark sites was that none of them had enough space for both the park and the village, and now Wolff is considering moving close to Bart(after he basically said it wasn't that important) to a location that a station won't be built until at least 2 years after the projected ballpark finishing date!?

If Wolff never needed space for both the park and village, and is considering to continue buying land, then why stop at a future Bart station, why not look at any of the current stations that already exist in the East Bay...heck, why not just go back to Oakland, Jerry Brown is gone now, and Dellums has already said he will do what he needs to do to keep the A's...

FWIW, I was just starting to except the idea that Pac Commons was the only site that would be able to fit village and park, and that it would be the only option to keep the A's, but then Wolff pulls this off...and people wonder why all those OAFCers always think he's lying, I'm starting to see why...

Marine Layer said...

I can see where it appears confusing, LeAndre, and I may be contributing to this. Here's how I see it.

There are not two, but rather four components. There's the ballpark. Next is the village, which has retail and some high-density housing. Then the medium-density housing (townhouses), and finally parking for the ballpark.

From an operational standpoint, two of these things are must-haves: ballpark and parking. There are laws on the books that mandate parking for any kind of establishment, and when it becomes the size of a large stadium, those parking requirements can be huge.

In the original project, financing would be done through the retail and housing components. However, the market has dictated that housing won't cut it in the near term. The original project was pitched as a "packaged" community, with access to the village and the ballpark creating a premium in demand and pricing for the housing. The retail part can still work as the economy turns around in a few years, since it won't be completed until 2011-12.

That leaves the financing piece to replace housing. For some period, the A's will have to go with their own cash and financing, and use sources they didn't anticipate previously, such as concessions and parking revenue.

Now that the premium in housing has disappeared, there is less incentive to bundle all of the components. That allows them to place the ballpark near BART and away from the village. So it's not a matter of abandoning the village, it's as I said previously, decoupling the village and the ballpark. The ballpark will still need parking as those laws are still on the books.

Anonymous said...

I know that area very well and it seems like an exceedingly odd place for a baseball stadium. It's a little bit like the current Coliseum site. It's industrial (tech industry) with very little else around. Warm Springs/Osgood is not major thoroughfare (in some places it's one lane each way), but can get very congested. I can't fathom what it will be like if tens of thousands of A's fans are added to the commute traffic, even if a fair number take BART.

I would also hope that the A's would try to somehow develop some of the neighboring parcels otherwise there will be truly nothing to do before/after the games, just like the current Coliseum site. It's not like China Basin where you can walk to a nearby restaurant or shops. In short, though I like the proximity to BART, I don't think the area is currently well suited to a stadium.


Marine Layer said...

Regarding sites along the existing BART corridors - the only ones that exist are at the Coliseum itself, the Broadway Auto Row site, and perhaps Dublin.

I've asked Oakland officials about Broadway Auto Row. They've told me that other development is "in the pipeline." I've gotten no response on the Coliseum South/HomeBase site. Both may be more "available" now given the market. Dublin has land, but it also has a much worse traffic problem than Fremont. All three sites are removed from the Silicon Valley money and support that the A's are looking for in Fremont, and that can't be discounted.

As for Dellums, he's not long for the mayor's office. Someone else will have to take up the mantle.

Anonymous said...

I work a mile from the " new " warm Springs site . It is an even uglier and more isolated location than the current Oakland stadium , surrounded by light industrial/muffler/auto repair type shops/anonymous come and go small businesses. Just on the other side of the 680 freeway lies an upscale neighborhood with one of the top rated public elementary schools in California . Expect MAJOR opposition from that well to do and politically connected group of homeowners -never mind NUMMI 's concerns. Forget about any " new retail " in that area, as the ballpark is only open for biz 80 days a year and NO ONE will be around the rest of the time to support those new businesses in the middle of nowhere.
To Lew,Keith and John- you know full well that native San Joseans are multi-generational SF Giants fans . You are trying to attract south Bay tech newbies who grew up elsewhere , many who are Asians and Hispanics and Indian who follow badminton,soccer and cricket more . If you intend to keep that stadium filled beyond year 1, it must be surrounded by the shopping/entertainment village and kept at Pacific Commons to attract the sustaining newbies .
Otherwise, you have gone through all this and end up with the same thing : a stadium in an ugly area next to BART with a dwindling established fan base. Why bother ?
I for one, woild NEVER go to a WarmSprings venue with my family , but would be their all the time at a Pacific Commons/Ballpark Village Wrigleyville-vibe mixed-use fun zone .

Tony D. said...

anon 1:11

"you know full well that native San Joseans are multi-generational SF Giants fans." Uhh, NO! I'm a native San Josean, like the rest of my family, and we're all A's fans. There are lot's of A's fans in SJ/Silicon Valley (I know a lot of them). I also know a lot of pure SJ baseball fans (fans of Dodgers, Orioles, Cubs) who would buy A's season tickets just for the love of the game.

Anonymous said...

I'll second that. The majority of people I have met from San Jose identify themselves as A's fans (although, that was during better times for the A's).

Anonymous said...

"Regardless of which parcel is chosen for a ballpark, it will be within a few hundred feet of the Warm Springs BART " - - - WTF ????

I did a MAPQUEST from the proposed Warm Springs BART location and an address on Automall - it comes up at 1.9 Miles ? ? ?

How do you get "...a few hundred feet.."

Marine Layer said...

anon 5:31 - I'm referring to the numerous pieces of vacant land around the BART station site.

Anonymous said...

most demographic surveys I've seen over the years were heavily skewed toward SF teams in terms of south bay support ...

James said...

I finally have time to weigh in on this.

First, I have to say let's all step back for a moment and listen to the revised plan, if one even comes to fruition. Remember two and a half years ago when everyone thought the original BP Village Plan was absurd, and then when it was released, almost everyone but OAFCers and Gus Morrison liked the idea. In any event, within the next couple of days, we should have a better idea what Wolff is thinking.

Second, as for the complaints of the new location, it is true that right now the area is a dump. However, it has been a long-standing goal of the City that the area surrounding the Warm Springs and Irvington BART stations would become Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) which would include retail, offices, and high-density housing. It is also the plan to redevelop the area around the existing Fremont Station into a TOD. TODs have been very successful in other parts of the country, including Arlington, Virginia, where I lived for about six years. Other TODs are beginning to spring up around the BART system, including Fruitvale and Hayward, and there is a plan to build an extensive TOD around the Pleasant Hills Station. If Fremont is successful in its goal, all three stations in the city will have TODs.

Third, I've spent some time looking at the area on Google maps. There are several undeveloped parcels, and if Wolff is able to get some or all of them, the stadium and BP village could easily be built there. It's important to remember that BART approached Wolff with the idea of building the stadium near the station. This leads me to believe that they are willing to play ball by giving up the currently-planned parking lots and favor of a parking structure, which, if the land can be procured, could be placed west of the Station along with bus boarding areas.

I think the prime site for the stadium would be north of Grimmer Blvd., between Old Warm Springs Blvd. and the train/BART tracks. It seems to me there's plenty of room for the stadium and parking structures, with the possiblility of Wolff being able to buy some of the developed land north of those parcels. I think it's unlikely that the undeveloped land south of Grimmer between Fremont Blvd. and Lopes Court because GM owns that property and NUMMI is generally opposed to the ballpark. If, however, Wolff is able to work with NUMMI and get them on board, that parcel might work for temporary surface parking and he might be able to forge an agreement to use some of the employee parking after hours.

The prime area for the village would be the surface parking lot that BART has currently planned, as well as the parcel south of Grimmer that is sandwiched between Warm Springs Blvd. and I-680 (placing the stadium on that site would likely run in to very heavy opposition by homeowners east of I-680).

So these are my thoghts. I'm warming up to the relocation idea as long as the village remains part of the stadium plan.

Anonymous said...

oh James, thanks for finally weighing in on this ...

such enlightening thoughts!

- Mike L.

Tony D. said...

anon 8:02,

Care to cite some of those supposed "demographic surveys?" Links please!

Also, I kind of agree with anon 4:42. During the late 80's/early 90's, it seemed like everyone in the South Bay was an A's fan. Then Pac Bell/SBC/AT&T Park was built. Bragging about going to a Giants game and wearing black and orange "SF" hats became the "in thing" in the South Bay. Trust me, when the San Jose Athletics begin play at Cisco Field, wherever it is, it will be the late 80's/early 90's all over again.

Anonymous said...

The Warm Springs site is much closer to an established higher income single family home neighborhood right across bordering 680. I forsee major " NIMBY-ism " for a massive development there. Grimmer is the "main"road in that area and it becomes a 15 mph narrow meandering neighborhood street with elemantry school and kids on bikes from there to Mission Blvd,as soon as the road passes under 680 . I imagine neighborhood fear is that cars will travel down Mission Blvd and funnel through Grimmer for east access to a ballpark/mixed use development at that site .
Pac Commons is miles from any current tract of homes and is probably an easier mixed use development to get through the EIR and polotical process.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's too damn close to major fault.