06 May 2009

Jingletown Stadium @ Fruitvale

Faithful New Ballpark readers: Marine Layer made the very foolish decision to let me, Chris Kidd, stand in for him for this post. I come, hat in hand, to offer you something you all thought you would never see. It is a favorite sticking point for San Jose partisans (and something in Oakland which we prefer to ignore) that none of the proposed sites in Oakland have a level of preparedness equal to Diridon. There's no EIR, they say. The needed infrastructure improvements are too great, they insist. Well, I believe I might have found a site in Oakland that will not only have both of those issues fully addressed within 18 months, but it will be done without costing the Oakland A's ownership a single penny (and if I might editorialize for a moment: In your face).

What is even more amazing is this site is far superior to both of the rehashed waterfront sites so far proposed in Oakland, specifically the site at Oak to 9th and the site at the Howard Terminal in the port of Oakland. Far superior. Have I whetted your appetite enough yet? Can you not stand the suspense anymore? Well, wait no longer: the site I'm talking about is on the Oakland Estuary at the base of the Fruitvale Avenue Bridge. A site I like to call Jingletown Stadium.

So, let's first talk about the site itself. It's 26 acres currently inhabited by the Owens Brockway Glass Container company. It is bounded by Fruitvale Ave to the north/west, Alameda Ave to the south/west, Home Depot to the south/east, and Boehmer and Elmwood Ave's to the north/east. I call it “Jingletown Stadium” because the site is across the street from the vibrant artist community of Jingletown (photo blog).

Now, let's compare this site with the two other Oakland waterfront sites: Oak to 9th and the Howard Terminal. When comparing sites, there are some yardsticks to go by: the size of the parcel(s), the ease of acquiring said parcel(s) and dealing with the displacement of the current occupants, the current infrastructure, the current public transit options, and the feasibility of adding infrastructure and parking.

Let's go point by point, though I'm going to save a little bit for dessert.
  • Size of Parcel: Jingletown Stadium is 26 acres, compared to 029's 40 acres and Howard Terminal's 46 acres.
  • Acquisition: Though 029 would be the easiest parcel to acquire, the A's would be taking on a ginormous NIMBY fight that has stalled out the development of 029 to this day. You don't want that. Howard Terminal is equally squishy: the port of Oakland just signed a 25 year contract with Matson Shipping and they would be required to relocate them to an equally large site for their exclusive operation. Space like that on the waterfront is neither easily attained nor is it cheap. While Jingletown Stadium would need to relocate the glass factory to elsewhere in Oakland, this is a much easier prospect than moving Matson Shipping. Oakland currently has an over-abundance of available industrial space, and finding another site for them to inhabit should not be difficult. One solution I particularly love is to put them on the Oakland Army Base. It offers the same proximity to a major freeway and the city would be able to offer them the land for free as incentive. Additionally, it would remove a large industrial polluter to an area of the city that isn't nearly as densely populated. But I digress...
  • Infrastructure: To put it succinctly, they suck for the other two sites. The Howard Terminal is near only 1 freeway exit southbound and 2 exits northbound. 029 doesn't fare much better with 2 exits northbound and 1 exit southbound. Compare that with Jingletown Junction having 3 exits reasonably close southbound (23rd, Fruitvale & High) and 2 northbound (High & 29th/Fruitvale).
  • Public transit: Here's where Jingletown Stadium cleans the clocks of the other two sites. Fruitvale BART is only a third of a mile away from Jingletown Stadium. Even better, Fruitvale BART is a regional hub for AC Transit. 029 is over a mile from Lake Merritt BART and Howard Terminal would require an infill station for BART. Screw that mess.
So, you guys have had to slog through quite a bit of article so far, but are you ready for dessert? I saved the best part for last, contained in the question of feasibility for upgrading infrastructure and parking. This is the lynchpin for what makes Jingletown Stadium far superior to all other sites in Oakland: The Central Estuary Specific Plan. Now, I could go through a whole explanation about what the Central Estuary Specific Plan is, or I could use the wonder that is The Internets and show you. I wrote some guest articles about the CESP for Vsmoothe's phenomenal blog A Better Oakland. They're here, here, and here. You can also read more by my blogger-crush DJ Crimson at his blog Oakland Streets here and here.

If you're link-averse, I'll spare you the work and give you the quick and dirty right here. The city is developing a “specific plan” for the area of Oakland's waterfront bound by 19th Ave, 54th Ave, 880 and the estuary. An EIR is created which will cover the entire specific plan area, and developers who want to build anything that is contained within the range of this EIR can use it to gain approval to build instead of having to create their own. The process for the approved types of new development will have a much faster time getting approval and getting construction started. For the significant amount of time and money saved by the developer using this EIR, they have to pay a “user fee” which will only be used within the specific plan area. These fees will do things like build sidewalks, create open space, modernize the sewer system, underground utilities, etc.

This is where the A's come in. If the staff drafting the specific plan include a stadium plan within the EIR, it's conceivable that the A's could use it for the stadium. What's more, the pretty hefty user fee the specific plan area would extract from the A's could go towards all the types of infrastructural improvements that the A's would need at a new stadium. Streets can be reconfigured, freeway exits can be modified. The area around Jingletown Stadium is still relatively underdeveloped: it can accommodate a lot of the upgrades needed to the roads and there are many underdeveloped lots that could serve as additional off-site parking to make up for the insufficient amount of space the 26 acres of Jingletown Stadium would provide for parking.

Plus, I bet Jingletown Stadium would have some mean burritos.
Editor's notes:
Like any site, Jingletown has its positives and negatives. I don't have any familiarity with this area other than driving through there several years ago while looking for waterfront sites.
  • Of the 26 acres, half would be devoted to the ballpark and the other half to parking in all likelihood. That translates to about 1,600 on-site spaces if only a surface lot were built to save costs. That could grow to 3,000 (two levels) or 4,500 (three levels) if a garage were built, but someone would have to foot the bill for that. The more parking is immediately available, the greater traffic impact. 10,000 spaces for any ballpark would be for any site, regardless of the site's proximity to transit. A worst case scenario has to be assumed to properly identify problems and create mitigation plans.
  • A 2002 report by environmental watchdog site Scorecard indicates that the Owens Brockway plant has a less than glowing report card in terms of toxic chemical/waste generation. If the site were acquired, it's likely that some amount of site cleanup would be required. The flipside is that wherever the plant is moved, it's possible that a cleaner replacement could be built. Owens Brockway's parent company is one of the largest glass container manufacturers in the world.
  • If Owens Brockway isn't interested in selling, the plan is dead in the water. Unlike the other two waterfront sites, this one is privately owned. As usual, eminent domain is assumed to be out of the question.
  • The picture intentionally orients the field east instead of creating a "Splash Hit" situation. A street acts as a buffer between the ballpark site and the waterfront.
  • Impact to Alameda is unknown, which means NIMBY reaction to such a concept is unknown.


Anonymous said...

For all the advantages of the site, and I give Mr. Kidd a lot of credit for using his imagination and doing the legwork on the analysis, I just don't see this site as adding value to the city of Oakland in any significant way.

For being in the middle of an urban area, I find it odd, but the best way to describe the location is "the middle of nowhere." It's only slightly less appetizing than the Coliseum parking lot as a site. Nothing else of note in the area. Also, I am not walking to Fruitvale BART after a night game with my son to BART home - heck, I'm not going to do that on Sunday afternoon. The JLS sites, while problematic, add value to a struggling JLS and create a "destination" area that Oakland sorely needs.

I'm just bitter because the best site in Oakland, Uptown, was killed by Jerry Brown and now has a bunch of unsold condos sitting there.

Go A's!

Anonymous said...

Not having any familiarity with site just a few questions---how close to current Oakland downtown restuarants/bars? Or is the equivalent of the Colisieum location?

How much existing infrastructure work would need to be completed--by that I mean access roads etc?

Is it an established Oakland redevelopment area?

Not knowing if the current owner is willing to sell is a huge wild card--putting this on the streets without having that answer seems a bit risky as MLB is looking for sure hits...not pie in the sky--

Jeffrey said...

Chris, nice work.

I have never gotten off BART at Frutivale... do you know what neighborhood is like? Is it a pedestrian friendly locale?

At the end of the day, this is a far superior site than the other two mentioned in the Mattier and Ross report. And from an ancillary development perspective, it is superior to the Coliseum parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Great just KC! I think you're way of thinking is much better than a lot of other people who hasn't come up with any other plans of their own. I do like the idea and it definitely has some justifications, but there are still plenty that would need to be researched.

As much as I like the idea of another proposed site in Oakland, I'll still have to say that my vote is for OFD training site(450 Fallon St.) which you didn't use as comparison and I believe is a better location than O29 even though they are very close to each other. If it came down to the Coliseum parking lot(former Homebase) site and possibly Jingletown Stadium, then I would need to see some more comparisons between the two.

Other than that, great effort and I'll be sure to pass on the proposal to my contacts over at the City of Oakland.

Anonymous said...

Chris Kidd here (I can't remember my google blogger password. Yeah, I'm cool like that)

So a couple scattershot replies:

-Getting back and forth to Fruitvale BART-
Fruitvale Ave itself is a wide, wide street. Some form of grade separated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or a light rail could be installed to run from BART to the stadium, though light rail may not work because it would have to cross the train tracks. What's more, the Fruitvale area leading up to the ballpark would get a developmental shot in the arm which would improve the area greatly and dispell some of the overblown crime perceptions. Look at what PhoneBook park did for the China Basin area. You don't wanna know what that place looked like before the ballpark went in.

-But it's in the middle of nowhere!-
The Oakland waterfront in this area is up and coming. There's a lot of new development, residents, stores and business that have been filling up this area for the last 5-6 years. Especially helpful is that a lot of the area is either zoned mixed-use (HBX) or will be zoned mixed-use as part of the specific plan (all the land south of Tidewater Ave), which is a newer zone and allows for easier building(another HBX area is the Jack London loft/condo district). In addition to the commercial areas within the specific plan area and the International @ Fruitvale corridor (2nd highest business tax receipts in the city, 90% occupancy rate), there's also the Park Street commercial district in Alameda which is flush with shops and restaurants. I guess my point is: There's already a lot of stuff there (though it's not yet well known) and there's a TON of potential for growth.

-Proximity to Downtown- It would be one BART stop closer to downtown, but sometimes a seemingly small difference can have a huge psychic impact.

-Infrastructure needs- For sure, there would need to be street reconfigurations and increased capacity for freeway offramps, but all of those things can be written into the specific plan. It's eaiser to get it done at this site than any other in Oakland because the city is in the middle of a process to reshape the neighborhood (19th to 54th along the waterfront) anyways.

Yeah, this is a bit pie-in-the-sky, but the mechanism is already in place to make this a reality as long as some political support and the support of the A's were to be put behind it.

dbackman said...

Nice work Chris. Glad to see one of the few other Oakland heads here on the boards stepping up and proposing something new. Seems like you really thought this through. I will have to go check out the site next time I ride out that way.
A stadium here could do great things for Fruitvale and really bring the Estuary alive. And it could start to bridge the gap between East Oakland and Alameda. But whatever the potential of this area may be, and I think it is quite high, locating a stadium here would be a pretty tough sell for old Lew Wolff.
As much as I personally enjoy the Estuary area, it is off the radar for most folks who don't live in the area. For others it carries a lot of negative connotations. Oakland stadium boosters like ourselves can get over this stuff if they haven't already, but the new fans that the A's are trying to attract probably cannot.

hamachi said...

thanks for posting this. I know the area a little (I lived a few blocks up the street for years) and this area is a bit sparse for services but I imagine that would change quickly if this did happen. there are a few condos going in the area and the waterfront development would certainly get fast-tracked.

but thanks so much for taking the time to contribute!

Anonymous said...

Good effort, but this seems to have a lot more cost and issues than the Coli site without a huge amount of added value. You can say Fruitvale has "potential" and ancillary businesses may come, but that is true of virtually any site. For whatever reason, the A's have been at the Coli for 40 years and ancillary business and attractions have not come, despite three major sports franchises playing over 130 dates per year there and bringing literally millions of people looking for recreation through the area.

Bottom line, the A's need a downtown site.

Cristobal said...

don't know how jingletown is now, but having grown up off of 33rd ave close to fruitvale and east 14th (i refuse to call it international blvd or whatever they renamed it), i remember that it was a rather shady area. my sister had a friend who lived there and it got to the point that you wouldn't venture in there if you either lived there or knew someone who did. locals made it a point too to ask you where you were from or what you were doing there if they didn't recognize you.

Navigator said...

Although the site may be easier to build on, what does this bring to Oakland?

We need a downtown or waterfront ballpark near Jack London Square. There's no bang for the buck in putting a ballpark at the foot of the Fruitvale Bridge on one of the narrowest and least attractive parts of the Oakland Estuary.

A ballpark in Oakland has to be in an area like Jack London Square where the added economic benefits can create a tremendous synergy with the ongoing 400 million dollar expansion of Jack London Square.

The OFD training site is a great site within walking distance of BART, Ferry, and Amtrak, while also being close to restaurants and entertainment on the waterfront. So what if we have some bureaucratic hurdles to overcome. It's well worth it.

This ballpark needs to be used as a catalyst for future growth and economic development for Oakland. Without that, it's not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just take over the Laney college field? Maybe fairyland? Those are better sites with as many obstacles I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Ho about something new like a hill top ballpark with views of the entire bay area? Merrit college?

Anonymous said...

Ugh! Some people can be such scaredy-cats! Worrying about the walk to BART after a game?!? You would be walking in a group of other A's fans, no? Ever been to a Yankee or Philly game? Were you afraid then? Don't be such a baby! Honestly, the father who commented above, afraid take his kid to someplace in the U.S.A.??? Grow a spine! Be an example to your child by being brave, not cowardly.

Anonymous said...

bravery doesn't kepp you out of the grave

Anonymous said...

Out of the grave?? How many people have you heard of even being killed around the Fruitvale district or near the BART station besides what happened on New Years??

Old Blue said...

With a daughter who lives a little more than a mile from this site (in Alameda), I know it well. I also believe that the Home Depot in question—the nastiest I've ever seen—doesn't seem to get much traffic and would seem to be a good candidate to go away. Kudos to Chris for coming up with this.

But, hey, Navigator is right. If you're going to do a park in Oakland, down there by Jack London Square, anywhere where you can get a critical mass of bars and restaurants. Somebody wrote on another thread about how much he liked the Coliseum and how if you are a real fan, nothing needed to change. Well, as a long-time fan, I can live with the Coliseum, but those casual fans that Marine Layer's talked about won't. Nope, the Coliseum has seen its day.

Now, WRT this particular site, I'd sure like it if Chris could talk the A's into moving somewhere right off Park Street in Alameda. Alameda, a seriously cool town, is much better than Oakland. Better run, too. Unfortunately, Alameda isn't going to happen and the Park Street bars and restaurants are a little too far from Chris's proposed site.

Chris's site would end up being like the Coliseum. Nothing there but a ballpark and parking lots. Not the best solution for the A's, not with the competition in the world's number one tourist city just 10 miles away.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. I like the A's and I like Oakland, but the A's time in Oakland is drawing to a close. No businessman in his right mind is going to put hundreds of millions of dollars into building a new stadium in Oakland. Keep that in mind, Oakland boosters, all of Oakland's teams have played in parks/arenas for which they haven't paid. Once a team actually has to pay to play, they get to decide whether 2M fans, which the A's have historically struggled to attract, or 3M fans, which a nice new park in San Jose might draw, is what they want to live with.

"Old Blue" obviously refers to the Dodgers. I was born and raised in LA, but lived in the Bay Area from 1989 to 2006. Really got to like the A's and I want nothing but the best for what's always been a good organization.

Oakland fans, I'm a baseball fan, and I'm old enough to remmber empty seats in the Coliseum three straight years (72-74) during A's home games in the World Series. Oakland has never supported this top-notch organization the way it should. Give the A's a chance. Support them moving to San Jose. I think they'd thrive there. Mark my words: they won't stay in Oakland. And you can't force them to do so.

Oakland Si said...

I do know that area, as I used to live relatively close to Fruitvale BART. There has been quite a bit of development of the area over the last 10 years; specifically, there is more foot traffic in that area going to and from BART, and I think having a ballpark near there would increasd that traffic as well as improve safety (it has been improving in the last 10 years). There other development projects planned and already underway (they are a combination of public-private-non-profit projects), that will continue to help improve the area.

By the way, I once worked in the South of Market neighborhood in SF, not far from where the Giants new ballpark is. When I worked there it was incredibly dangerous. Residential and commercial development in that area has definitely helped in the safety aspect.

So this proposal deserves some research and consideration. Thanks for posting it.

Ken Arneson said...

As an Alamedan, I'd love this, but I can already hear the NIMBY complaints. Lights. Noise. Traffic. And most of all, crime.

That's a pretty rough neighborhood around there. It's heavily Mexican, with apparently lots of illegal immigrants. I've worked in that area, and I was also on a jury involving an illegal-on-illegal robbery not too far from there on International Avenue a few years back. I came to learn from this case that this sort of crime is common around there, because the victims don't want to report anything to the police, for fear of being deported themselves. So there's a bit of a lawless subculture in the area where some of the usual crime deterrents are missing.

The thing the Alameda NIMBYs fear the most is having the crime from that area of Oakland jump over the bridge into Alameda. I don't know how this stadium would cause that to happen, but that's what they'd worry about.

Chris Kidd said...

For all those folks complaining that such a site would be Coliseum II: clearly you didn't read any of the links I attached dealing with the Estuary Specific Plan. This area is going to see a huge increase in density and development, both residential and commercial. The specific plan EIR will make new development MUCH easier than anywhere else in Oakland. The growth potential for this area is huge, with or without a stadium. It's for this reason exactly that I think a ballpark would work so well here. It would be well-integrated into the existing neighborhood and further spur the economic development that is already set to take place.

And for those who are afraid of all those scary brown people: I live in Jingletown and have not been affected by a single crime there in over 3 years. Yes, there's a bit of graffiti and the occasional car theft, but where would you NOT find that in Oakland? Again, how are conditions on the Oakland waterfront (west side of 880) any worse than the state of SOMA pre-Giants?

I'm just trying to help, guys. Don't player hate, player participate.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I like this location, mostly because I could see it getting strong local political support quickly.


Patrick said...

Love the idea of a ballpark here. That glass factory is an eyesore and an anomoly in this rapidly changing area. I live just .5 miles off Fruitvale, near the reservoir, and I drive past this sit almost weekly (on my way to Home Depot).

Two points I must disagree with, however:

1. That Home Depot is underutilized because people don't know it's there. Also, there is nothing else like it for miles around - to get rid of it would be a disservice to our community. OK, to get rid of it would be a disservice to me.

2. Fruitvale is not (as CK stated) a "wide, wide street". It is one of the most congested streets in the city, especially where it intersects with 9th, International, Foothill and 27th. Driving down Fruitvale is a test of endurance - don't count on it as a method of funneling people to a ballpark.

Otherwise, great idea! I do think that Alamedans will resist even the infrequent inconvenience of essentially closing off one of their easiest escapes from the island. But the local latino population would probably offer tremendous support.

Jeepers said...

This is a decent idea worth exploring. My biggest concern is Alameda, though--they will absolutely pitch a fit.

I'm only half kidding when I say simply tearing down Jerry Brown's condos an option?

Anonymous said...

I love this idea. I'm a middle aged short Jewish white guy who lives in a wealthy area of Oakland, and i'm not very brave. But, I've worked very close to this proposed site (in the shopping center off of Fruitvale Ave, just East of 880, and at International and 27th), and at least during the day i felt totally comfortable walking around Fruitvale. There are certainly parts of Oakland where i *am* scared to walk around, like near the current home of the A's, but Fruitvale isn't like that.
I've taken bike rides along the estuary, and it's really nice.
If i lived in alameda, i'd worry about that the park would effectively knock out one bridge before and after games..
Oh, and i'm no Home Depot fan, but the one in question here is 100x better than the one in Emeryville. it's new, and i doubt they'd pack up and leave...

Anonymous said...

Who's going to pay for it? Certainly Oakland isn't going to. Certainly Wolff isn't going to. The A's stadium plans claim to be privately financed but that's a great big fib.

The cornerstone of all Lew's plans is a stadium AND a "Ballpark Village". Lew gets an area zoned for redevelopment which means all the sales and property taxes generated at the site are kicked back to the developer to offset construction costs. It's a shell game of hide the subsidy. Wolff can claim he's building his stadium with "private money" - but in reality he's collecting Tax Incremental Financing to reimburse him for his costs.

The Kidd Plan in Jingletown is not feasible because it fails to provide Wolff the opportunity to recoup his construction costs through taxes generated at the redevelopment site.

* This is not a slag against The Kidd Plan or an opinion about the merits of Tax Incremental Financing. It's simply saying there is no plan unless you come up with a funding mechanism. Wolff is not going to plunk down the construction costs unless the public is going to refund it to him through a series of masked subsidies.

Anonymous said...

Location: Alameda Ave. & Fruitvale
Radius: ½ mile
Time: Last 90 days

THEFT - 47
Total - 118

Location: Fruitvale BART Station
Radius: ¼ mile
Time: Last 90 days

THEFT - 31
Total - 139

So, there's a reason not be so 'brave' - And the stats aren't much better for JLS unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

3rd and King - Phone Book Park for the last 90 days, same 1/2 mile radius

Grand Total 289

Goodness, there's MORE crime there? Heavens to betsy!

Anonymous said...

I guess nothing bad ever happens in San Jose either that you don't always read or hear about right??,%20CA

Just type in Diridon past 30 days and hit search. Shit happens everywhere, not just Oakland.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, if you want to talk about shit happening then take a look and see how many people have actually died over the past several years at AT&T park compared to how many deaths have happened at the Coliseum during either a Raiders game or an A's game. Zero!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree. I think the Coliseum is safer than any other proposed site. There is a direct, contained, controlled access walkway direct from BART to the stadium.

Anonymous said...

The Fremont NIMBY's are nothing compared to the NIMBY's in Alameda. Alameda and its political $$$ and power will never allow that stadium to happen.

Even if somehow this got passed Alameda, significant infrastructure would need to be done because the access roads are already narrow and congested.

There are also no bars, restaurants, or decent housing in the area. It is primarily industrial and retail with some very old housing stock in poor condition.

Enough land would have to be purchased to demolish lots of structures and rebuild. Of course, this would mean "gentrification", resulting in even more political delays.

As one of the posters said, Jack London Square is probably the ideal site for a ballpark and restaurants, bars, housing, etc could be expanded there. However, the transit situation is not ideal. It will be a considerable walk to Jack London from BART.

BART did a lot of stupid things when the system was built, but the convenience of BART to the Coliseum was one smart thing they did do. Easy public transit to the stadium (not buses) is one of the things I would require in any new park.

Chris Kidd said...

(Chris Kidd again)
These anonymous posters really need to read the links provided before claiming this area is nothing but an industrial wasteland that will always stay that way.

As for the claim that (1) there's no housing and (2) there's no gentrification:

That's just what I've googled in the last 2 minutes. And that's BEFORE the specific plan. The entire Tidewater area is changing over to mixed-use zoning as well. Seeing what this area is going to become, and how a ballpark would fit in with this, takes a little bit of vision.
I'm starting to feel a little silly repeating myself, but I'm happy to keep doing it if it means people take this legitimate shot to keep the A's in Oakland seriously.