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File #: 2016-2867   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Planning Board
On agenda: 5/9/2016
Title: Study Session to Provide Direction on Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan Park and Street Network Alternatives and Key Development Regulations
Attachments: 1. Exhibits A, 2. Public Comment

Title

 

Study Session to Provide Direction on Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan Park and Street Network Alternatives and Key Development Regulations

 

Body

 

CITY OF ALAMEDA

                     Memorandum

 

To:                                          Honorable President and

                                          Members of the Planning Board

 

From:                                          Jennifer Ott, Base Reuse Director

                                          Michelle Giles, Redevelopment Project Manager, Base Reuse

                                           

Date:                                          May 9, 2016

Re:                     Study Session to Provide Direction on Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan Park and Street Network Alternatives and Key Development Regulations

 

BACKGROUND

 

As required by the Alameda Point Zoning District (Alameda Municipal Code 30-4.24), a specific plan for the Main Street Neighborhood at Alameda Point is required before new development can occur in the Sub-district. 

 

On February 19, 2015, the City Council approved a contract with Urban Planning Partners (UPP) to draft a Specific Plan for the Main Street Neighborhood within Alameda Point (Main Street Plan) funded by a Metropolitan Transportation Commission grant of $250,000 and administered by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The UPP team consists of the following partners: 

                     Urban Planning Partners: Land Use planning and policy lead

                     Cultivate Studio: Project management, urban design and graphics lead

                     Community Design + Architecture: Circulation and sustainability lead

                     BAE Urban Economics: Financing and supportive housing lead

                     Page & Turnbull: Historic preservation and adaptive reuse lead

                     Sustainable Agriculture Education: Urban agriculture resources lead

The City’s key objectives for the Main Street planning process are:

                     Build on prior studies and adopted plans to achieve consistency with the City’s vision, goals and implementation approach;

                     Provide policy guidance for future development;

                     Stitch the Main Street neighborhood into the larger Alameda Point Community;

                     Lead a community and stakeholder outreach process that delivers clear direction to inform the planning process;

                     Achieve a successful supportive housing component that integrates residents and structures into the new neighborhood;

                     Address the components that are within the Naval Air Station (NAS) Alameda Historic District (Historic District);

                     Design a walkable neighborhood that emphasizes pedestrian rather than the car; and

                     Balance quality development with flexibility necessary to accommodate changing market and development scenarios.

This evening’s Planning Board meeting will serve as a public forum to review and receive comments on the main components of the Main Street Plan with the goal of identifying a preferred alternative to build the plan around.  Based on feedback this evening, the consultants and staff will prepare the draft Main Street Plan and return to the Planning Board for further comments.

 

Stakeholder Outreach

 

A majority of existing residents of the current Main Street Neighborhood live in housing operated by three organizations--Alameda Point Collaborative (APC), Building Futures with Women and Children (BFWC), and Operation Dignity, known at the “Collaborating Partners”. The Collaborating Partners work to meet the housing and service needs of persons impacted by homelessness, poverty, mental health concerns, domestic violence and veteran status in the Main Street Neighborhood.  In addition to 200 housing units for over 500 residents, the organizations provide employment training for adults, an academic center, teen center, and summer programming for children on 34 acres at Alameda Point.  Currently the housing is spread across the neighborhood and in disrepair, making it difficult to provide consolidated services and security for its residents.

 

In June 2015, City staff and the UPP team held a kick-off meeting with the Collaborating Partners, a representative from ABAG, and other Main Street residents to better understand their future goals for the neighborhood and provide a timeline for preparing the plan.  Some of the common themes were: a safe environment, new infrastructure, resident engagement, maintain individual organizational identities, promote community spirit, and establish collaborative ties with Site A.

 

Over the summer and fall of 2015, the Collaborating Partners and MidPen Housing Corporation (Mid-Pen), a Bay Area-based nonprofit affordable housing developer they selected to assist them in constructing new facilities, embarked on an intensive community outreach process with residents of their organizations to inform the preferred development scenarios for new housing and neighborhood development.  Engagement activities included: monthly meetings with each provider’s residents, focus groups with Collaborating Partners staff, two community-wide design input meetings, 1-on-1 interviews, and other meetings as needed. The two community-wide design input meetings (July and August) were well attended. Over 100 residents participated in each event and they received 600 comments on their preferred housing type and ideas for neighborhood design that were then used to form the preferred site plan.  The meetings were facilitated by staff from MidPen, David Baker Architects, and Urban Design Innovations.

The outcome of this engagement was a selection of a preferred site to consolidate the groups’ housing and services. The selected site is approximately 10 acres and bounded by Main Street to the east and West Midway to the north (Exhibit 1).  The site was chosen to meet several objectives to allow the Collaborating Partners to compete for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits needed to finance the new supportive housing, including: proximity to public parks, schools, grocery stores and transit, and need to minimize upfront infrastructure-related costs.  The preferred site is adjacent to the existing ploughshares nursery and farm.  Their selected site location is shown on all of the alternatives included later in this report. The more detailed programming for their site, which included the components below, will be part of a subsequent development plan and design review process:

                     Urban agriculture identify

                     No major traffic cutting through the neighborhood

                     A richly landscaped community square/social enterprise space

Another part of the stakeholder engagement process involved the UPP team conducting individual interviews with the primary goal to document concerns and ideas of those directly associated with the Main Street Neighborhood.  Below is a brief description of the groups interviewed on June 21, 2015 and highlights of the comments.  Exhibit 2 provides a detailed summary of their interviews.

 

1.                     Alameda Architectural Preservation Society (AAPS) -The goal of the AAPS is “to increase public awareness and appreciation of historic architecture in Alameda.” This organization is primarily concerned that the new development in Main Street respects the visual character of structures that contribute to the Historic District.

 

2.                     Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) - Regional organization operating ferry service on the San Francisco Bay, including the Alameda Main Street Ferry terminal located immediately north of Main Street.  WETA provided important information regarding future ferry terminal expansion, access and parking plans.

 

3.                     Alameda Point Partners (APP) - Development team whose “Site A” development plan directly south of Main Street was approved by the Alameda City Council in June 2015.  APP is interested in supporting beneficial cross-programming between the Site A and neighboring plan areas (Main Street, Site B).

 

4.                     Bike Walk Alameda - The mission of this organization is “to make Alameda a safe and enjoyable place to walk and bike.” Representatives from the group expressed interest in creating a system of bikeways that is appropriate to the neighborhood and creates functional connections to outside destinations.

 

5.                     Existing Residents from Market Rate Housing - Approximately 28 current residents attended interview/feedback sessions.  Common themes were to maintain the calm, peaceful, neighborly environment, family-oriented streets and the large green spaces and trees.  They also expressed interest in keeping the single-story ranch style homes for accessibility by seniors and desire for more recreational spaces and meandering bike paths.  Concerns included maintaining economic diversity and the unpredictable impact of future change.

 

Evolution of the Main Street Specific Plan

 

The Main Street Plan follows two decades of policy planning related to the redevelopment of NAS Alameda.  After the closure of the base in 1997, the City completed a series of planning efforts for the development of a transit-oriented, mixed use community on the 878-acre portion of NAS Alameda dubbed Alameda Point. These include:

 

                     1996 NAS Alameda Community Reuse Plan

                     2003 General Plan Amendment, Chapter 9, Alameda Point

                     2013 Alameda Point Vision

                     2014 Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance Amendment

                     2014 Alameda Point Master Infrastructure Plan (MIP)

 

The 2003 General Plan Amendment added Chapter 9. Alameda Point, to the General Plan. Chapter 9 establishes a policy framework to implement the community’s vision of the reuse of Alameda Point consistent with the Community Reuse Plan.

 

The creation of four planning sub-areas, including the Main Street Neighborhood, was critical to this redevelopment strategy presented in the General Plan. In 2014, the Zoning Ordinance Amendment for Alameda Point established six sub-districts and required that new development in the Main Street Neighborhood (like the Waterfront Town Center Sub-district) would require the completion of a Specific Plan before new development could occur.

 

The 2014 MIP establishes a plan for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the backbone infrastructure of Alameda Point, with infrastructure costs estimated at over $1 million per acre. It is a guide for new infrastructure that will evolve over the 25-30 year build-out of the entire Alameda Point, and includes street sections and improvement plans for all elements of the street and utility system.

 

In 2013, NAS Alameda was classified by ABAG as a Priority Development Area (PDA), appropriate for transit-oriented infill development. All of the previous planning efforts were officially adopted in 2014, with the certification of the Alameda Point Project Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  The Town Center and Waterfront Precise Plan (Town Center Plan), was adopted in 2014.

 

The City’s Alameda Point Zoning Ordinance Amendment includes a set of standards designed to achieve the desired land use and character of each sub-area (Exhibit 3). For the Main Street Neighborhood, those standards target the creation of a walkable, residential environment, with land uses that support a variety of housing types, as well as neighborhood-serving retail, agriculture and community parks. According to the Zoning Amendment, neighborhood land uses in the Main Street Neighborhood should complement the historic housing and network of neighborhood-oriented streets that define the Historic District which includes the “Big Whites”, former Navy Married Officer’s Quarters with large 2-story houses on large lots with green space, the Bungalows, small cottage-style homes and the beehive street network. (Exhibit 4)

 

Other characteristic components of the Main Street Neighborhood include: 1) Ploughshares Nursery, a full-service plant nursery which serves as a job training and employment opportunity for APC residents with 100 percent of sales returned to the organization’s supportive housing services; 2) APC Community Garden, a small community garden where APC families grow their own food to promote healthier lifestyles, and 3) The Farm at APC, a 2-acre community farm operated by APC which supports an adult employment training program and volunteer hub. The future use and location of these components have been part of the Collaborating Partners internal discussion and would benefit from further comment by the Planning Board.

 

Of the 268 housing units located in the area, 200 are utilized by the Collaborating Partners with each organization managing separate groups of units in distinct areas of the area. The remaining 68 units of housing in the Main Street Neighborhood are market rate rentals, which consist of the 19 “Big Whites” (including the Admiral’s House) and non-historic ranch-style homes and townhomes. 

 

Based on the average household size of the City of Alameda of 2.57 persons, it is assumed that the 68 units house roughly 175 residents. This results in a total population in the Main Street Neighborhood of approximately 675 persons.

 

DISCUSSION

 

To date, staff and UPP have conducted the above outreach process that has included both internal and external stakeholders to identify the key concerns and important elements to consider as the plan develops.  Staff is requesting the Planning Board’s preliminary comments and guidance on the public and private spaces within the Main Street Neighborhood, specifically on 1) key private development regulations for appropriate building types, building heights, and land uses; and (2) parks and street network alternatives.  From these comments, UPP will begin to develop the sections of the plan and staff will return to the Board for further review.  

 

As part of staff’s and consultant team’s internal discussions, the Plan area was divided into three sub-areas (Exhibit 5).  These areas are not intended to become formal sub-areas in the Plan, but are meant to illustrate the key characteristics and identity of each area of the neighborhood that helped the staff and consultant team think carefully about the future development of the neighborhood.

 

1.                     Collaborative Sub-Area -defined by the preferred location of the Supportive Housing campus on the eastern portion of the area, south of Midway.  It includes the area just to the west which is envisioned as developable land that will help to finance and build out the infrastructure and replacement housing needed by the Supportive Housing Providers. The edges of this area transitions into Site A on the south edge, the Adaptive Reuse area on the western edge and Main Street and the Bayport neighborhood on the eastern edge. Questions that were considered include:

 

a.                     How to transition and connect this area with the Town Center Sub-district and Site A development?

b.                     What type and level of development will integrate with the Supportive Housing campus?

c.                     What connections are necessary or beneficial within the Adaptive Reuse area?

 

2.                     Beehive Sub-Area - defined by the curving street network on the north end, known as the beehive, and the larger lots and open spaces between homes and other structures.  The boundaries of the Historic District in the Plan lie entirely within this sub-area. This area also contains the neighborhood’s major east/west, north/south street and sits generally in the middle of the Plan Area. Questions that were considered include:

 

a.                     How to transition the Historic District with potential new development?

b.                     How to capitalize on the crucial character-defining features of the beehive street network in the adjacent new development areas?

 

3.                     Farm Edge Sub-Area - defined by APC’s urban farm and the Ploughshares Nursery, this area follows along Main Street to Pan Am Way.  This sub-area is currently the most active, relating to areas outside of Alameda Point and inviting the community into the neighborhood with its proximity to Main Street, the Bayport neighborhood and the Main Street ferry terminal.  Questions that were considered include:

 

a.                     Should this area be oriented inward towards the neighborhood, as well as outward toward Main Street?

b.                     Should the intensity of use continue along the entire edge, including higher density residential, retail?

c.                     Is there a transition needed with the ferry terminal?

Staff and the consultant worked internally to consider how the questions above could be addressed and, with consideration of stakeholder’s input, came up with the following recommendations and proposed alternatives for the private and public realms of the Main Street Neighborhood.

 

I. Public Realm: Park and Street Alternatives

The Planning Board’s discussion and comments about each of the alternatives distinctive open space and street elements will help staff to determine which alternative or combination of elements within the alternatives are preferred so that the consultant team can prepare a draft Main Street Plan. 

Overall, the circulation within and around the Main Street Neighborhood will remain consistent with the MIP and the AP Zoning Map, with the main local streets- West Midway, West Tower, Orion Way, Main Street and Pan Am Way and the beehive street network continuing to define the historic area with the Big Whites (Exhibit 6).  The street network within the Collaborative site will come back at a later time for Board review and approval.  The western most open space shown on all three alternatives is an existing open space and grove of mature trees.

 

On the upper left hand corner of each of the alternatives is a guide to the approximate dimensions of the various elements. For context, a walk in the neighborhood from the northernmost point to the southernmost point is approximately a ½ mile walk or 10 minutes. All of the alternatives show the supportive housing in the same location based on the Collaborative planning and technical analysis.

 

Alternative 1: Expanded Beehive (Exhibit 7) - The expanded beehive alternative is defined by: (1) a continuation of the existing beehive street network into the new development area to the east, paying homage to one of the most unique aspects of the Historic District and the existing Main Street Neighborhood, and (2) a “T” park and street network along Orion Way and West Midway Avenue that creates north-south and east-west connections, respectively, linking the various parts of the neighborhood together.  The one-way couplets on both east/west and north/south linear open spaces have the effect of slowing traffic, increasing the safety and walkability of the neighborhood, and maximizing open space.  In summary:

 

Parks/Open Space:

                     North/South and East/West linear park (1/4 mile or 4-5 “short” blocks in length by 150 feet wide) with sufficient room to accommodate a diversity of recreational and passive park programming.

                     Green space along major streets in and out of neighborhood that link all parts of the neighborhood together and creates a new character-defining feature for the neighborhood.

                     Connections to existing Farm and proposed APC community gardens.

                     Issues raised by the Alameda Recreation and Park Department (ARPD) that long linear parks with longer edges require greater maintenance and may be more difficult to program.

 

Street Network

                     Continuation of beehive streets into eastern part of the neighborhood grid.

                     One-way couplets along each site of parkway.

                     Bike paths throughout the neighborhood with important north-south connection to existing ferry terminal.

Alternative 2: Orion Way Linear Park (Exhibit 8) - The Orion Way linear park alternative is defined by a single north-south linear park along Orion Way that connects all areas of the neighborhood and by a partial continuation of the beehive network to the east. The one way couplet around the green space will slow traffic and north/south orientation provides a strong connection with the Town Center Plan area and the Main Street ferry terminal.  Orion Way has always been proposed to be a strong north-south connector of the northern and southern waterfronts in previous planning documents (i.e., the Estuary on the north to the San Francisco Bay to the south).  This alternative strongly reinforces this connection. 

In summary:

 

Parks/Open Space

                     North/South linear park along Orion  (1/3 mile long or 7-8 “short” blocks, 150 feet wide) with sufficient room to accommodate a diversity of recreational and passive park programming.

                     Green space along major north-south street connection in and out of neighborhood that links neighborhood together and creates a new character-defining feature for the neighborhood and reinforces northern and southern waterfront connections in Alameda Point.

                      “Green ribbon” access along Orion for bicyclists and pedestrians.

                     Issues raised by the ARPD that linear parks with longer edges require greater maintenance and may be more difficult to program.

 

Street Network

                     One-way street on either side of Orion Way.

                     Partial continuation of the beehive street network to the east.

                     Larger blocks.

                     Bike paths throughout the neighborhood with important north-south connection to existing ferry terminal.

Alternative 3: Central Gardens (Exhibit 9) - The Central Gardens alternative is defined by a central square gathering area, not a linear park, and a more traditional street grid with fewer one-way couplets.  Given the dimensions of the Central Gardens there is potential for a small neighborhood baseball or soccer field that is not possible with the other alternatives and is less costly to maintain due to less edging.

Parks/Open Space

                     Large central park gathering space (about 1 block x 1 block or 300x400 feet or 2.75 acres).

                     An additional parks/open space area at the northern end of Orion Way.

                     A slight expansion of the existing open space off of Pan Am Way.

                     Less park space directly adjacent to the proposed Collaborative Site.

 

Street Network

                     Orion Way is a two-way through street to Main Street and West Tower Ave.

                     One way around the park.

                     Local roads through quadrant south of West Midway Ave and west of Orion Way.

                     Bike paths throughout the neighborhood with important north-south connection to existing ferry terminal.

II. Private Realm: Key Development Regulations

The development regulations and guidelines for the private realm ensure that all future private and public investments in the Plan area support the safe, walkable residential mixed-use neighborhood envisioned by the current planning documents, and which are common to most Alameda neighborhoods.  While there are historic resources that are expected to be preserved, it is anticipated that the majority of the neighborhood will be redeveloped with new construction. 

Staff is asking the Planning Board to weigh in on the initial recommendation regarding proposed building types, heights and uses for Main Street Neighborhood as summarized below:

 

Building Types- Staff is recommending that the entire Main Street Neighborhood be treated in general like other predominantly residential neighborhoods in the City, which would typically allow all buildings types, except medium to large-sized workplace commercial and parking structures. Residential types would include, but not be limited to, single-family detached, bungalow, row house, townhome, apartments/multi-plex and work-live units.  Small-sized structures for neighborhood-serving commercial, retail, or community uses would also be allowed.  There would be no building type differentiation among areas within the Main Street Neighborhood.

 

Building Heights - In general, building heights will be no more than 50 feet (4 stories). The maximum heights would be reserved for areas of new development or those that are near the edges transitioning into more active and/or intense public or private uses.  Staff proposes a lower height limit for the Historic District of 30 feet (2 stories) to respect the historic character of the existing buildings and keep the building heights consistent with the existing buildings.  Exhibit 10 shows a map of staff’s initial proposal regarding building heights for the neighborhood.

 

Land Use - Staff proposes that the uses within the neighborhood be residential mixed-use (RMU) and not be differentiated within the Plan area.  In general, the RMU category from the Town Center Plan allows the following land uses either by right or with conditional approval:

                     Multi-family

                     Single family

                     Work-live

                     Community Garden

                     Parks, Playgrounds, Sports fields

                     Trails

                     Small Office

                     Café

                     Restaurant

                     Urban Farm

                     Commercial Nursery

                     Convenience Store

                     Post Office

                     Child Care

                     Teaching studios

                     Artist Studio/Gallery

                     Other

Staff recommends the uses listed in the RMU category from the Town Center Plan as a starting point for the land uses to be included in the draft Main Street Plan.

 

Conclusion and Next Steps

Staff is requesting feedback this evening from the Planning Board on the following items:

 

1.                     Public Realm: Park and Open Space Alternatives. Provide direction on the preferred park and street network alternative or the distinct open space and street elements within the alternatives that are preferred.

 

2.                     Private Realm: Key Development Regulations. Provide direction on the staff recommendations regarding building type, building height and land use.

Based on this feedback, the consultant team, in conjunction with staff, will prepare a draft Main Street Plan for review by the Planning Board.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW


No action is required. This report is for discussion purposes only.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Provide direction on Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan’s park and street network alternatives and key development regulations.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point

 

 

Exhibits A: 

1.                     Collaborating Partner’s Selected Site

2.                     Summary of Stakeholder Interviews

3.                     Alameda Point Zoning Map

4.                     Main Street Existing Conditions

5.                     Main Street Sub-Areas

6.                     Proposed Circulation Diagram

7.                     Alternative 1- Expanded Beehive

8.                     Alternative 2-  Orion Way Linear Park

9.                     Alternative 3 - Central Gardens

10.                     Main Street Proposed Height Limits