Alameda’s waterfront sets high standard for future Bay Area development

By John King, San Francisco Chronicle, February 2, 2022

“[D]evelopers for 20 years have sought to remake the western two-thirds of the former Alameda Naval Air Station. After numerous false starts, the first pocket of new construction is wrapping up — and it shows how our bay shoreline can accommodate change while serving people who don’t necessarily live or work there.

“The new elements include a ferry terminal that [takes] you directly to San Francisco, and a 3-acre waterfront plaza that opened quietly this week. The first four residential blocks include 128 subsidized apartments for, among others, low-income families and formerly homeless veterans.

“[T]he final block of West Atlantic Avenue [a boulevard that extends across the north half of Alameda island] is level with the plaza — the idea being that it can double as a setting for food trucks or large gatherings, though neither is in huge demand right now. Shared streets of this nature have been talked about in San Francisco for years, but none have been built at such an inviting scale.

“ ‘What we tried to do is focus on the experience of how the public connects to all this,’ said Andrew Thomas, [AICP,] Alameda’s planning director. “Atlantic Avenue is the front door. It has to be the best of the best.’

“The original deal with the Navy only allows 1,800 new [housing] units in all of Alameda Point. But with the state pushing cities to make room for large amounts of additional housing, it’s an obvious place to increase density.

“While the city had the final sign-off, much of the infrastructure was built by Alameda Point Partners, which in 2016 was awarded the first 68 acres where new development is allowed.

“ ‘I don’t think I would have done this deal without knowing the ferry would be there,’ said Michael Sorochinsky [CEO of an investment company in Alameda Point Partners]. ‘Connectivity is so important.’ ”

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