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File #: 2016-2642   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Historical Advisory Board
On agenda: 3/3/2016
Title: Certificate of Approval, Site A-Block 11 and Waterfront Park. A certificate of approval for the plans for the Block 11 building adjacent to the NAS Historic District and the new Waterfront Park on the Seaplane Lagoon in the Historic District. The environmental effects of the proposed project were considered in the Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report. No further environmental review is required.
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - VerPlank Historical Evaluation of Block 11 and Waterfront Plans, 2. Exhibit 2 - Block 11 Plans, 3. Exhibit 3 - Phase 1 Waterfront Park Plans, 4. Exhibit 4 - Draft Resolution

Title

 

Certificate of Approval, Site A-Block 11 and Waterfront Park.  A certificate of approval for the plans for the Block 11 building adjacent to the NAS Historic District and the new Waterfront Park on the Seaplane Lagoon in the Historic District.  The environmental effects of the proposed project were considered in the Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report. No further environmental review is required.

 

 

Body

 

To:                                                               Honorable Chair and

                     Members of the Historical Advisory Board

                     

From:                        Andrew Thomas, Assistant Community Development Director

                                            Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point

           

 

BACKGROUND

 

In June 2015, the City Council unanimously approved the Site A Development Plan for a 68-acre area within Alameda Point that extends generally from the Main Street entrance to Alameda Point to the Seaplane Lagoon and the eastern edge of the Naval Air Station Alameda Historic District (Historic District). 

 

Since the City Council action on the Development Plan, the project proponents, Alameda Point Partners (APP) and their teams of architects and design professionals, have been designing the buildings and site improvements for Block 11and the Phase 1 Waterfront Park. The work has been informed and directed by a Planning Board subcommittee, public Planning Board study sessions on December 14, 2015, January 11, 2016, and February 22, 2016, and a Historical Advisory Board study session on January 5, 2016, and a Recreation and Parks Commission review on January 28, 2016.

 

At this time, staff is recommending that the Historical Advisory Board hold a public hearing and approve a Certificate of Approval for Block 11 and the adjacent Phase I Waterfront Park.  The recommended resolution of approval is supported by a third party independent analysis prepared by VerPlanck, Historical Preservation Planning under contract directly to the City of Alameda.  Mr. VerPlanck’s evaluation is included in Exhibit 1.  The plans for Block 11 are included as Exhibit 2, and the plans for the park are included as Exhibit 3.  The recommended resolution of approval is included as Exhibit 4.

 

DISCUSSION

 

Community Planning Process

 

The plans for mixed-use, transit oriented development at Alameda Point are the result of a community planning process that is over 20 years long. The major milestones during this extensive community effort include:

 

                     The adoption of the 1996 Alameda Naval Air Station Community Reuse Plan (Community Reuse Plan) and Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which envisioned reuse and redevelopment of Alameda Point with 5.5 million square feet of employment uses and 1,425 residential units, including public parks and retail services.

 

                     The adoption of the Alameda General Plan Alameda Point Element and EIR in 2003, which placed the Community Reuse Plan vision, goals, and policies into the Alameda General Plan.

 

                     The July 2013 endorsement of the Alameda Point Vision Guide reconfirming the community’s support for the vision and goals presented in the Community Reuse Plan and General Plan.

 

                     The 2014 adoption of the Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance, Master Infrastructure Plan (MIP) and third EIR consistent with the Community Reuse Plan, which established the zoning and development regulations and the Alameda Point Master Infrastructure Plan (MIP) necessary to support 5.5 million square feet of employment uses and 1,425 residential units, after over 30 public hearings and community meetings between 2012 and 2014.

 

                     The May 2014 adoption of the Alameda Point Transportation Demand Management Plan (TDM Plan) consistent with the General Plan and the Alameda Point EIR, which creates a comprehensive program of strategies, measures, and transit services that supports a transit-oriented development at Alameda Point, achieves the City of Alameda’s General Plan goals to reduce automobile trips, and mitigates potential traffic impacts.

 

                     The July 2014 adoption of the Alameda Point Waterfront and Town Center Precise Plan, which established the form-based development standards, height limits and pedestrian oriented development standards for the lands at the gateway and surrounding the Seaplane Lagoon Waterfront Park at the heart of Alameda Point.  The Town Center Plan included the most detailed plans prepared to date for a mixed-use district at the heart of Alameda Point.

 

                     The June 2015 unanimous City Council action to adopt the Site A Development Plan (shown above), which provides a detailed plan for 68 acres at the heart of the Waterfront Town Center planning area. The approval process included recommendations from the Planning Board, Recreation and Parks Commission, Historical Advisory Board, Transportation Commission, and direction from public open houses and public walking tours.

 

The Site A Development Plan

 

The Site A Development Plan implements the Community Reuse Plan, General Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and the requirements of the MIP and Town Center Plan.    The Site A Development Plan includes:

 

                     Approximately 14.8 acres of publicly accessible open space, parks and plazas representing approximately 22% of the 68-acre property, and approximately 16.3 acres of public streets and sidewalks representing an additional 24% of the property.

 

                     Eight hundred of the 1,425 total residential units programmed for Alameda Point and up to 400,000 square feet of commercial development in existing buildings, approximately 200,000 square feet of retail and hotel space in new buildings. Residential units are provided in transit oriented, multifamily building types on eight blocks located immediately adjacent to the primary transit corridor along the Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway (RAMP) that links a future ferry terminal at the Seaplane Lagoon with the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between Site A and downtown Oakland.  All residential units on Site A will be within a one-block walk or less of the BRT line, protected bicycle lanes along RAMP and public open space to facilitate a pedestrian oriented environment.  Of the 800 units, approximately 635 of the units will be in stacked flat buildings over parking and approximately 165 of the units will be in attached or stacked townhomes and row houses.  200 of the 800 units (25%) restricted to very low-, low- and moderate-income households.  

 

                     One hundred twenty-eight (128) of the 200 affordable units are permanently restricted for very low- and low- income households.  These units are proposed to be constructed by Eden Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, in two buildings on Block 8 in the first phase of the development.  The development also includes two (2) moderate-income units. Eden Housing will also provide long-term property management and resident services targeted to the needs of its residents.  The 70 moderate-income units will be dispersed throughout the remaining residential buildings. 

 

                     400,000 square feet in existing buildings will be marketed primarily for flexible R&D, office and/or light industrial and retail uses or ancillary retail uses.  These uses are complementary to existing uses within the adjacent adaptive reuse area, which include clean-tech companies and food and beverage manufacturing production uses.

 

                     Dedicated annual funding for transit services and transportation programs. In addition, the project is providing $10 million for construction of the new Ferry Terminal at the Seaplane Lagoon to support expanded ferry services to San Francisco and the region and over $8.5 million to construct complete streets in and around Alameda Point, including key transit improvements, such as dedicated bus lanes on RAMP to support expanded transit services from Alameda Point to downtown Oakland and BART. 

 

Block 11 Design Review Plans (Exhibit 2)

 

Block 11 and the adjacent waterfront street are designed to meet the community’s design objectives established by the Alameda community through the Community Reuse Plan, the General Plan, the Town Center Plan, and the Site A Development Plan.  Block 11 is located at the very heart of the Site A Development Plan and Alameda Point Waterfront Town Center planning area.  Given its important geographic location within Alameda Point, the Block 11 design must meet a variety of important public planning and design objectives:  

 

Waterfront Orientation: Block 11 fronts onto the Seaplane Lagoon and the new Phase 1 Waterfront Park where it will provide a transition between the urban fabric of Alameda Point and the natural environment of the Seaplane Lagoon and the San Francisco Bay.   The building and adjacent waterfront street are designed to face the water to the south west of the building and make it as easy as possible for residents of the building and visitors to the building to view the water, walk to the water, and enjoy and appreciate the waterfront location.  Designed as a pedestrian friendly "naked street" without curbs, the design also respects the Historic District cultural landscape guidelines, which emphasize the Navy's historic street and taxiway design without curbs or with rolled curbs, which serves to emphasize the horizontality and the "flatness" and "openness" of the historic character of the street and landscape pattern. 

 

The waterfront street in front of Block 11 is designed to serve as an extension of the adjacent Waterfront Park and provide a strong pedestrian-oriented, bicycle friendly, street front between the building and the park. Designed without curbs and without asphalt, the waterfront street utilizes paving materials, colors and textures, along with landscaping, to create an inviting public space through which vehicles may slowly pass, approximately 12 vehicles may be parked, pedestrians may stroll along and across, and bicyclists may pass through with little concern for speeding vehicles.

 

Historic District Neighbor: Block 11 fronts onto the adjacent Historic District where it will provide an architectural transition between the Historic District to the west and the non-historic portions of Alameda Point and Site A to the east.

 

The Block 11 architectural design shares architectural elements, materials and colors that reflect and respect, without replicating, the “Art Moderne” architectural style of the most important contributing buildings in the Historic District.  Examples of these elements include the strong horizontal lines that define the architectural design of the building, (See photos in Exhibit 1), the use of glass and light off-white concrete and stucco materials, and ground floor retail elevation elements that reflect the design of the large multi-pane hangar doors that are such defining features of the adjacent Hanger Row.  Additionally, the siting of the Block 11 building and adjacent waterfront street respect the historic street alignment and maintain view corridors along RAMP and Pan Am Avenue and of the seaplane hangars looking north.

 

Transit-Oriented Mixed-Use Development: Block 11 fronts onto the major transit corridor and commercial center within Alameda Point’s “town center”, where it has the opportunity to create a transit-and pedestrian-oriented higher density mixed-use living environment. Consistent with the Site A Development Plan and Town Center Plan, Block 11 includes 221 of the 800 new residential units approved for Site A. The total building height is approximately 78 feet to the top of parapet.

 

Consistent with the approved Alameda Point TDM Plan and the Site A TDM Compliance Strategy, residents and employees of Block 11 will be provided AC Transit easy passes, on-site bike share facilities and access to other TDM programs.  In addition, the residents of Block 11 will have access to: 

                     Approximately 25,000 square feet of on-site ground floor commercial retail uses;

                     A variety of on-site amenities including approximately 4,500 square feet of interior community and recreational facilities, as well as a large landscape podium above the retail and parking levels with lap pool and a roof top garden with views to the bay and San Francisco beyond;

                     Two lobbies that serve residents, each accessed through a street-facing garden;

                     15-minute transit services to the regional ferry, BART, Downtown Oakland, nearby Alameda shopping districts, and access to on-site amenities;

                     Directly accessible space for the secure storage of approximately 240 bicycles, with contiguous space for bicycle maintenance and repair; and

                     226 on-site parking spaces plus 10 tandem spaces for resident parking as well as 60 parking spaces available for retail uses. 

                     

 

Phase 1 Waterfront Park Design Review Plans (Exhibit 3)

 

The 2.63-acre Phase 1 Waterfront Park depicted in Exhibit 2 represents the first phase of a larger 6.7 acre Waterfront Park, which is part of the 13-acre public park plan to be designed and constructed as part of the Site A project.  The 13 acres are comprised of three “park districts”: the “Waterfront Park District”, the “Urban Park District”, and the “Neighborhood Park District”, and each district is designed to provide a range of public open space and park facilities.  The plans for the Park are designed to implement General Plan policies calling for a waterfront park and the Waterfront and Town Center Precise Plan vision for this important waterfront park.  On page 91, the Precise Plan describes the park as follows:

 

“Located at the end of Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway, the plaza affords a dramatic view and invitation to the Seaplane Lagoon and surrounding waterfront parks.  As a flexible space for markets, events and outdoor cafes, the plaza can also provide vehicle access as needed for retail venues…With the waterfront promenade integrated through the waterside of the plazas, Seaplane plaza will likely be the most active space in the plan.” 

 

In general, the Waterfront Park District emphasizes spaces for passive recreation and access to the water, waterfront promenades, water viewing areas, seating areas, and gathering spaces.  The Urban Park District emphasizes public spaces adjacent to and within an urban commercial fabric, including an emphasis on outdoor cafés, restaurants, seating areas, and similar public spaces in and around retail areas. The Neighborhood Park District emphasizes active recreational uses adjacent to primarily residential areas, such as children’s play areas and “tot lots”, basketball courts, and other neighborhood and community serving open space and recreational facilities.   As shown on page L-7 of the phase 1 Waterfront Park submittal, the design and programming of the Phase 1 Waterfront Park must be considered within the larger context of the other parks planned within Site A. 

 

The Phase 1 Waterfront Park is designed to achieve to provide public access to the waterfront, an entrance to the Historic District, and ensure the long term viability of the area by addressing sea-level rise in a manner that is consistent with the Historic District Cultural Landscape Guidelines.

 

Provide a Public Gathering Place at the Water's Edge and Create Varied Park and Open Space Experiences.  The Phase 1 Waterfront Park is designed to provide a variety of public spaces for passive recreation and opportunities for the public to enjoy the waterfront location and special events, and appreciate the views of the San Francisco skyline and the historic row of seaplane hangar buildings at the entrance to the Historic District, along the northern edge of the Seaplane Lagoon.   The 2.63-acre Phase 1 Waterfront Park is designed to create three primary sub-areas (i.e., the Overlook, the Promenade & Terraces, and the Taxiway). 

 

The Overlook starting on page LW-4 includes a pavilion for a café with outdoor seating and restrooms, as well as an elevated wood outdoor area for overlooking the promenade at the water’s edge, as well as portions of the promenade adjacent to the water.

 

The Promenade and Terraces starting on page LW-9 consists of a series of terraces and promenade spaces leading down to the water’s edge that provide for a variety of more passive spaces for enjoying and experiencing the waterfront. 

 

The Taxiway area starting on page LW-14 is intended to pay homage and respect to the historic elements of the former NAS Alameda by engraving a timeline along the major east west gathering area into the concrete to remind and educate the public about the history of the site and the Historic District, and by minimizing tree plantings and planted areas to preserve the "openness" of the historic taxiways consistent with the Historic District guidelines.  The project designers are working with the NAS Alameda Historical Museum to refine the final historical milestones to be documented in the park.  This area will also include open and unobstructed areas planned for special events and food trucks and future retail buildings as conceived in the Site A Development Plan and a temporary multi-purpose lawn for active recreation uses until future phases of the Waterfront Park are constructed and this area is designed consistent with the areas to the north.

 

Consistent with the Historic District guidelines, tree plantings and planted areas are minimized to preserve the "openness" of the historic taxiways.   Where trees are planted, they are placed to emphasize the character defining views identified in the cultural landscape guidelines for the Historic District.

 

Addressing Sea level Rise within the Context of the Historic District Guidelines.  With anticipated sea level rise, the existing taxiways prior to the Site A redevelopment are expected to will flood during higher tides and storm events.  Consistent with the approved Master Infrastructure Plan (MIP) and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) policies, the Waterfront Park is designed to address 24-inches of sea level rise (plus required freeboard) and additional sea level rise in future years beyond 24 inches through adaptive management strategies. 

 

The Phase 1 Waterfront Park design is also designed to preserve the existing bulkhead and the “horizontality" of the taxiway space, both of which are contributing features to the NAS Historic District. 

 

To accommodate both public objectives, the sea level rise strategy is designed around a series of short terraces spread over a larger space to minimize the impression of changes in elevation and the “flatness” of the site, and it allows for the preservation of the historically significant existing bulkhead and seaplane ramps.   However, it is important for the Planning Board and the community to understand that with sea levels rising, during storm events and annual "King Tides" (unusually high tides), the bulkhead and adjacent promenade will flood occasionally as the sea level rises over time, but the majority of the public park and Bay Trail will permanently remain above the flooded areas behind the stepped terraces.  For these reasons, the official Bay Trail will be placed at the top of the sea-level rise protection rather than at the very edge of the bulkhead.  Through this combination of design strategies, the design achieves a critical balance between the competing objectives of addressing sea-level rise and preserving the historic bulkhead, while creating a sustainable, engaging and aesthetically pleasing community asset and maintaining the horizontality of the site. The sea level rise protection is illustrated in the Appendix of Exhibit 2.

 

Conformance with Policies and Plans:

 

General Plan: The plan for Block 11 and the Waterfront Park are consistent with, and implement, the City of Alameda g General Plan.  The Alameda Point General Plan Element establishes the following seven (7) objectives for the redevelopment of the former naval air station:  

 

1.                     “Seamless integration of Alameda Point with the rest of the City”.  The projects are designed as transit oriented, mixed-use, mixed income that is in keeping with Alameda’s traditional character and scale.

2.                     “Fostering a vibrant new neighborhood”. The projects create new public and private facilities that encompass a variety of uses, facilities and spaces that will create a vibrant new waterfront neighborhood.

3.                     “Maximizing waterfront accessibility”.  Block 11 and the Phase 1 Waterfront Park improve accessibility to the waterfront and provide spaces and facilities for public enjoyment of the unique Seaplane Lagoon.

4.                     “De-emphasizing the automobile and making new development compatible with transportation capacity”. The residential project is designed to promote and support the use of alternative modes of transportation-such as bicycles, buses, and ferries-to reduce present and potential future congestion. The Phase 1 Waterfront Park is designed for pedestrians and bicycles and is located within close proximity to automobile visitor parking and public transit. 

5.                     “Ensuring economic development”. The projects provide housing, open space, and retail services which are needed to support economic development of Alameda Point and create jobs in West Alameda to replace the jobs lost by the departure of the US Navy in 1996.  

6.                     “Creating a mixed-use environment”.  The projects are designed to include a variety of uses that promote a transit and pedestrian-friendly mixed-use environment. 

7.                     “Establishing neighborhood centers”.  The projects contribute to a neighborhood center at Site A that allows for residential, commercial, civic, community support services, cultural and recreational uses that support human interaction and public events. 

 

The following specific Alameda Point General Plan Element policies are examples of General Plan policies that are implemented by the proposals:

 

Encourage higher density residential development in the vicinity of the multi-modal transit centers, along with parks and community serving businesses and institutions, such as child care and family child care homes, in order to promote accessibility via alternative modes of transit.

Create a series of neighborhoods, each with a central focus of mixed-use development, including local serving commercial and recreational uses and a mixture of housing types and densities serving all income levels.

Create neighborhood centers similar to Alameda’s neighborhood business districts, with supporting uses such as retail and local serving office and civic uses in mixed-use neighborhood centers that are acceptable for nearby residents.

Provide diverse and creative development and architectural styles to achieve distinctive neighborhoods.

Create mixed-use development that locates service-oriented uses near residences and offices.

Foster development of residential, commercial, and retail uses that promote vitality and pedestrian activity along the waterfront.

Achieve human-scale transit-oriented development.

Focus uses that create pedestrian traffic in all areas.

As part of the development or landscaping approval process, define view corridors and develop criteria so that views may be preserved.

Explore the feasibility of creating an outdoor site for cultural celebrations, ceremonies, and exhibitions.

Integrate parks and plazas into new development at Alameda Point.

Provide for community recreation opportunities throughout Alameda Point.

Establish a public plaza at the marina that will serve as a focus for public uses on the waterfront.

Establish a pedestrian- and bicycle-accessible perimeter shoreline trail throughout Alameda Point. Ensure that this trail is open year round, that the trail meets minimum multi-use trail standards, and that landscape treatment of the open spaces adjacent to the Estuary and the San Francisco Bay does not block distant views.

Redesign Atlantic Avenue to include a landscaped transit corridor for buses, jitneys, or future light-rail development.

 

Specific Plan: The Alameda Point Waterfront and Town Center Precise Plan is a specific plan that establishes zoning level form and use requirements for the development of this area of Alameda Point to ensure that development is consistent with the General Plan.  The plans are consistent with, and implement, the following Waterfront and Town Center Specific Plan objectives, principles, and requirements:

 

The Precise Plan includes the following vision and guiding principles for all development in this area of Alameda Point:

 

“The primary goal of redevelopment within the Town Center and Waterfront Sub-district is to create a compact, transit-oriented, mixed-use urban core and vibrant waterfront experience that will leverage the unique character and existing assets of the sub-district, through incremental intervention, to catalyze transformation of the wider Alameda Point area.” 

 

To realize this vision, the precise plan establishes five “core principles”:

 

1.                     “Enhance existing assets and character”.   The projects enhance and embrace the Seaplane Lagoon, maximize waterfront access, and the history of the site.

 

2.                     “Facilitate strategic implementation”.  The projects and their associated re-investment in infrastructure support and facilitate redevelopment and reuse of the adjacent Historic District and adjacent “Site B” employment area.

 

3.                     “Cultivate a sustainable transit-oriented center”. The projects represent the core of a mixed-use, mixed income transit oriented center supported by Waterfront Parks, transit services, and ground floor retail services. 

 

4.                     “Highlight the waterfront experience”. Block 11, the adjacent shared plaza waterfront street, and the Phase 1 Waterfront Park highlight and support the waterfront experience.

 

5.                     “Create a unique destination”.  The two projects represent the core of a mixed-use, mixed income transit oriented center supported by retail and restaurant uses, and waterfront parks that will be a unique destination for visitors to recreate, shop, dine, and enjoy.

 

Findings and Conclusions:

 

In conclusion, staff finds that the two projects are:

 

                     Consistent with the General Plan,

                     Consistent with the Waterfront Town Center Specific Plan

                     Consistent with the Alameda Municipal Code, including Section 13-21 Historical Preservation, and

                     Consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Resources and the Guidelines for the Preservation of the NAS Historic District.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

On February 4, 2014, the City of Alameda certified the Alameda Point Final EIR in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The Final EIR evaluated the environmental impacts of redevelopment and reuse of the lands at Alameda Point consistent with the Town Center Plan, which included Site A. No further review is required for this review of the project designs. 

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Hold a Public Hearing and approve a Certificate of Approval for Block 11 and the Waterfront Park (Exhibit 4)

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Andrew Thomas, Assistant Community Development Director

Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point

 

 

Exhibits:

1.                     VerPlank Historical Evaluation of Block 11 and Waterfront Plans.

2.                     Block 11 Plans

3.                     Phase 1 Waterfront Park Plans

4.                     Draft Resolution