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File #: 2016-2929   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Planning Board
On agenda: 5/23/2016
Title: Planning Board Workshop: Provide Direction on Alameda Point Site A: (1) Blocks 6 and 7 Architectural Design, (2) Blocks 6 and 7 Parking Design, (3) West Atlantic Gateway Design and (4) Street Names for Side Streets.
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - History of Planning for Site A, 2. Exhibit 2 - Block 6 Architectural Design Plans, 3. Exhibit 3 - Block 7 Architectural Design Plans, 4. Exhibit 4 - West Atlantic Street Design, 5. Exhibit 5 - Proposed Street Names, 6. Exhibit 6 - Memorandum from Nelson/Nygaard regarding Parking Design of Blocks 6 and 7 Related to Site A TDM Compliance Strategy

Title

 

Planning Board Workshop: Provide Direction on Alameda Point Site A: (1) Blocks 6 and 7 Architectural Design, (2) Blocks 6 and 7 Parking Design, (3) West Atlantic Gateway Design and (4) Street Names for Side Streets.  

 

Body

 

To:                                                               President and

Members of the Planning Board

                     

From:                        Andrew Thomas, Assistant Community Development Director

             

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).  For those residents and interested parties that are new to the 20-year community planning process that has proceeded these design review discussions, a summary of the Alameda Point planning process is attached as Exhibit 1.

 

On March 14, 2016, the Planning Board approved the Design Review applications for Blocks 11 and 8 and the Phase 1 waterfront park, and on April 11, 2016, the Planning Board held a study session to review the architectural and landscape design for Blocks 9 and 10. 

 

At this time, staff would like to invite the Alameda community and Planning Board to review and comment on the initial architectural and parking design for the proposed townhomes on Block 6 (Exhibit 2) and Block 7 (Exhibit 3).  Staff would also like to invite the Planning Board to review and comment on the design for the West Atlantic Street configuration and gateway design (Exhibit 4) and the proposed street names for the side streets at Site A (Exhibit 5).  No final actions are recommended on any of these items at this time.

 

DISCUSSION

 

I.                     Architectural Design for Blocks 6 and 7

 

Designed by the KTGY Group, Block 6 includes 64 attached townhomes in eleven individual buildings of between 4 and 8 units each.  All of the buildings are three stories in height. Each unit includes a private two car garage and 2 or three stories of living space.  Sixty of the units are between 1,444 and 2,184 square feet in size.  Five units are 2,541 square feet in size, and one unit is 2,915 square feet in size.  

 

Designed by Kwan Henmi Architecture and Planning, Block 7 includes 60 attached townhomes in a similar configuration.  All of the units are between 1,521 square feet and 2,357 square feet in size.  Forty four of the units have two-car private garages and 16 of the units have one-car private garages.  All the units are three stories.

 

Initial Staff Findings: Exhibit 2 for Block 6 includes page 15.1, which shows the south, West Atlantic Avenue facing elevation of Block 6, Block 7 and the approved elevation for Block 8.   Based upon an initial review of the architectural plans included in Exhibit 2 and Exhibit 3, staff’s finds that:

 

                     The proposed scale, mass, and height of the buildings on Block 6 and Block 7 are consistent with the height, massing and scale requirements of the Town Center Plan and Site A Development Plan.

 

                     The contemporary design proposed for Block 6 and 7 complements the approved design for Block 8 and the architectural character of the nearby Historic District.

 

                     Block 7 provides an important contrast to the KTGY designed building on Block 8 and the KTGY designed buildings on Block 6.

 

                     The orange colors on Block 7 are at first glance, disconcerting, but upon closer inspection, the orange panels are actually wood panels or panels with a wood-like finish that will provide an attractive and warm contrast to the contemporary design.  Upon further review, staff is particularly impressed by the creative use of materials on Block 7.

 

                     Staff appreciates the massing and composition of elements on Block 6, but is initially a little concerned with the somewhat uniform color scheme on some elevations (see “front elevation” on page 18.1) and the somewhat chaotic color scheme on “front elevation” on page 19.1.

 

                     Staff is still considering the alignment of the east-west auto and pedestrian spaces at mid-block, and the Fire Department is still accessing fire access for these two blocks, which may affect the design of these spaces between the buildings.   However, staff would like to hear from the Board on their thoughts regarding the alignment of the internal spaces between Blocks 6, 7, 8, and 9.  (See Exhibit 2 page 2.)

 

                     On Block 6, staff prefers the “Scheme 2” on page 21.2 with the “wing” and Scheme 3 on page 21.3 over Scheme 1.  See below for more discussion of the West Atlantic Gateway design.

  

II.                     Parking Design for Blocks 6 and 7

 

The Alameda Point Transportation Demand Management Plan (TDM Plan) and the Site A TDM Compliance Strategy are designed to reduce the traffic impacts of Alameda Point redevelopment on the rest of the Alameda community. Parking management and design are essential components of the Alameda Point TDM Plan and the Site A TDM Compliance Strategy.  Transportation experts have determined that successful TDM plans (i.e., a plan that reduces single-occupancy car use and increases transit use and other alternatives) depend on both incentives, such as frequent and reliable transit service, safe and accessible streets for walking and biking, free bus passes, as well as disincentives that avoid providing an over-supply of “free parking.”  In fact, parking is never “free,” but the costs of parking and car use are often hidden by “bundling” those costs into the cost of the housing.  By “bundling” the cost of the parking into the cost of the housing, the housing becomes more expensive and the cost of driving as compared to the cost of using transit appears to be less.  For a transit user, bundling the cost of the parking with the cost of the housing means that the transit user pays twice for transportation: once for the cost of parking and a second time for the cost of transit. Furthermore bundling the cost of a two-car garage into the cost of a home, means that a household that only needs one car is paying housing costs for two cars. To eliminate these hidden costs, support transit users, and reduce housing costs, TDM Plans often require that the cost of parking be separated from the cost of housing by requiring that parking be leased separately from the cost of the housing unit to those who need parking.    

 

The Alameda community has consistently demanded that the City of Alameda and its City Council, Boards, Commissions and staff develop and strictly enforce a successful transportation plan designed to avoid or minimize the potential traffic impacts of Alameda redevelopment on the rest of the Alameda community.   As a result, it is important to carefully evaluate the parking design of Blocks 6 and 7 that are providing bundled 2-space garages as it relates to the successful implementation of the Alameda Point TDM Plan. 

 

In May 2014, the City Council approved the Alameda Point TDM Plan, which was prepared by Kimley-Horn and Associates, which was the culmination of transportation plans and strategies prepared by transportation planners and engineers over the last 20 years of community planning for Alameda Point.  The previous planning documents that informed the Alameda Point TDM Plan include: the 1996 Community Reuse Plan Transportation Element, the 2003 Alameda Point General Plan Element, the 2005 Alameda Point Transportation Strategy, the 2008 Citywide Climate Action Plan, the 2008 Alameda Point Station Area Plan - TOD Alternatives, the 2009 General Plan Transportation Element Update, the 2014 Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report, the 2014 Waterfront and Town Center Specific Plan (Town Center Plan).

 

The Alameda Point TDM Plan explains:

 

“The need to reduce automobile travel is instinctual to those who reside and work in the island community of Alameda.  With its limited access to the mainland, Alameda has little capacity for growth and economic development without addressing associated traffic issues.   It is also necessary to regulatory reasons including:

 

1)                     To comply with the policies of the General Plan to reduce automobile trips by shifting travel to other modes of transportation to maintain and improve the quality of life enjoyed in Alameda;

 

2)                     To mitigate the potential traffic-related impacts and regional transportation systems as required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and identified in the environmental impact Report (EIR) certified for Alameda Point (February 2014); and

 

3)                     To help achieve the Bay Area’s goal for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission as required under SB 375 by developing Alameda Point as a walkable, transit oriented, “complete community” as required by Alameda’s Priority Development Area (PDA) designation.

 

The Alameda Point TDM Plan adopts the General Plan’s trip reduction goal of 10% for residential development and 30% for new commercial development.  As described on page 7 of the TDM plan, to achieve the trip reduction goal, the Plan has two major components:

 

1) “a series of services and programs that provide or support alternatives to driving alone (e.g. bus service, guaranteed ride home services, and financial incentives for not driving alone)”, and

 

2) “a parking management strategy designed to discourage everyday use of SOVs.” (Single occupant vehicles). 

 

As described on page 30:

 

“The parking management strategy for Alameda Point is not a separate or stand-alone plan, but an essential component of the Alameda Point TDM Plan that supports the overall objectives of the Plan.   The parking strategy has its own objectives as well. The objectives are:

 

1)                     To limit the supply of private parking and control the pricing of public parking to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation, as part of a series of strategies that comprise the Plan with an overall objective of significantly reducing the number of automobile trips generated by the Alameda Point land uses.

 

2)                     The ensure that Alameda Point has a sufficient parking supply, meeting the need of its businesses, employers and residents, with the context of a compact, walkable and transit oriented community.

 

To ensure sufficient, but not excessive, parking for all users in the context of a compact transit-oriented community, the parking strategy uses three methods of controlling parking supply: “zoning and development standards, public parking facilities, and parking pricing.” 

 

The Town Center Plan establishes the zoning and development standards consistent with the Alameda Point TDM Plan.  To ensure that the supply is not excessive, the Town Center Plan establishes a maximum parking requirement of 1.5 parking spaces per residential unit.   To address parking pricing, the Town Center Plan also requires that residential parking be leased separately from the lease or sale of the residential unit (i.e., unbundled parking) in new multi-unit residential buildings of 10 units or more. 

 

To approve the proposed design for Block 6 and Block 7, the City must find that:

 

1.                     For the purpose of parking supply, the City will consider Site A as a single “project”. Although Blocks 6 and 7 exceed the 1.5 space per unit, the residential blocks on Blocks 11, 9, and 8 are less than the 1.5 space per unit, such that all the residential blocks in Site A as a whole will meet the 1.5 spaces per unit standard. 

 

2.                     For the purpose of parking pricing, the City will consider each building on Blocks 6 and 7 as a single “project.”  Although Blocks 6 and 7 are proposing private garages that will not be leased separately (i.e., bundled instead of unbundled), none of the townhome buildings exceed nine units in size, as the Town Center Plan exempts small buildings of 10 units or less from the unbundling requirement. 

 

Initial Staff Findings: The proposed parking design requires that the Planning Board and Alameda community balance implementing a successful Alameda Point TDM Plan that achieves its goals and minimizes traffic impacts on the rest of Alameda with generating sufficient value from the Site A development to pay for the public open space, affordable housing, and transportation improvements required as part of the proposed development. Based upon the initial review, staff finds that:

 

                     As demonstrated by the memorandum prepared by Nelson/Nygard (Exhibit 6), Site A has a robust and aggressive TDM Compliance Strategy with a wide variety of transportation services and facilities, including the provision of transit and ferry services and other transportation services and programs.  Site A is constructing the bus rapid transit lanes on West Atlantic, contributing $10 million towards construction of the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal, and contributing $600,000 annually at buildout towards transit service and other TDM programs.   In addition, Site A is providing transit service at a frequency in the peak hours (i.e., 15-minute vs. 30-minute) and other subsidies (i.e., $50 Clipper card contributions for employees) that exceed the requirements of the Alameda Point TDM Plan.

 

                     As presented in Exhibit 6, the Site A project is expected to achieve the 10% trip reduction goal for residential development, despite the incremental increase in cars from Blocks 6 and 7, due to the design of the parking.

 

                     Blocks 6 and 7 will generate more automobile trips than they would if the parking was unbundled and limited to 1.5 spaces per unit. From a transportation perspective, the proposed design for Blocks 6 and Block 7 would be improved if the parking design for the two blocks was modified to lease the parking separately from the lease or sale of the townhome (similar to the townhomes on Block 11) and the overall number of parking spaces available on each block met the 1.5 space per unit ratio or less.  Based upon the information available to date, staff is not able to quantify the number of additional trips that will be generated by Blocks 6 and 7 as the result of the current parking plan as compared to a parking plan with unbundled parking. Additional information will be provided under separate cover when available.

 

                     The provision of two-car, private bundled garages (with the cost included into the cost of the unit) will increase the price of the unit, which will increase the value of the underlying land.  APP is planning to sell the land to a home builder and use the proceeds from the sale of the land towards constructing the required public infrastructure and amenities for Site A.  A higher land value facilitates construction of the infrastructure and improves feasibility.   Based upon the information available to date, staff does not have sufficient information to be able to quantify the financial difference between bundling and unbundling the parking on Blocks 6 and 7. Additional information will be provided under separate cover when available. 

 

III.                     West Atlantic Street and Gateway Design

 

Block 6 marks the gateway into Site A and Alameda Point from the rest of the City of Alameda.  As part of the Site A Development Plan approval, the Planning Board required that the Design Review for Block 6 include the proposal for the “gateway” into the site.  Condition #15 reads:

 

The first Design Review application for town homes on Blocks 6 or 7 shall include alternative design concepts for Planning Board review and approval for: 

a.                     The entry monuments, public art, and/or gateway structures proposed for the Main Street entry consistent with the character images shown in the Development Plan that relate to the history of the former Naval Air Station Alameda.

b.                     The north-south paseos, which should include at least one alternative that would allow for automobile access for guest parking or delivery truck access through the blocks.

c.                     Alternative design concepts for the east-west pedestrian corridor shown through Blocks 6, 7, and 8 such that there is not a single linear corridor extending across all three blocks. 

 

At this time staff would like to initiate the next phase of the public discussion about the “gateway” design into Alameda Point.  As shown on the attached plans for Block 6 and West Atlantic Avenue (Exhibit 4), the “gateway” may include: 

 

                     A landscaped plaza on each corner of the West Atlantic Avenue on the west side of Main Street.  (See page 8.1 of Exhibit 2).  These plazas will mark the entry into Alameda Point and the intersection of the north-south cycle track along Main Street and the east-west cycle track along West Atlantic/Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway.

                     A monument structure/bus stop that makes reference to the history of the Naval Air Station that will mark the entry of the site. (See preliminary concepts on page 8.1 Exhibit 2)

                     As shown in Exhibit 2 (pages 22.1, 22.2, and 22.3), Block 6 may include a large graphic or sign that marks the “gateway”.  Staff likes graphic on page 22.2 which makes reference to the history of NAS Alameda and relates to the graphics on the major hangers.  

                     Dedicated bus lanes into and out of Alameda Point from Main Street to Orion, consistent with the Town Center Plan.  The bus lanes will travel adjacent to the parking lane, which is adjacent to the curb.  (Exhibit 4 and pages 8.1 in Exhibit 2)  AC Transit staff has been assisting with the design of West Atlantic.

                     On-street parking will be provided in the parking lane.  Street trees will be placed in the parking lane to provide more space for pedestrians on the sidewalks and reduce the apparent width of West Atlantic Avenue. 

                     Sidewalks along West Atlantic Avenue will be 11-feet wide, which will provide for a comfortable pedestrian experience.

                     At Orion, the bus lanes will merge with the automobile travel lane to enable a “mixed flow” of buses and cars (similar to other streets in Alameda) and provide for a narrower street, which will benefit the ground-floor retail and pedestrian shopping experience. (See Exhibit 4).  

 

Street Names:

 

Exhibit 5 includes the proposed street names for the side streets at Site A.  All of the proposed names are selected from the pre-approved list created by the Planning Board and approved by the Historical Advisory Board.  Staff is comfortable with the proposed names and their relationship to the former NAS Alameda.

 

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 Planning Board study session and review and comment on the:

 

1.                     Architectural Design for Blocks 6 and 7.

 

2.                     Parking Design for Blocks 6 and 7.

3.                     Proposed West Atlantic Street and Gateway Design.

 

4.                     Proposed Street Names for Side Streets.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Andrew Thomas

Assistant Community Development Director

 

 

Exhibits:

1.                     History of Planning for Site A

2.                     Block 6 Architectural Design Plans

3.                     Block 7 Architectural Design Plans

4.                     West Atlantic Street Design

5.                     Proposed Street Names

6.                     Memorandum from Nelson/Nygaard regarding Parking Design of Blocks 6 and 7 Related to Site A TDM Compliance Strategy