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File #: 2017-5010   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Planning Board
On agenda: 12/11/2017
Title: Hold a Public Hearing to Consider Design Review Approval for Block 9 at Alameda Point Site A. No further environmental review is required for this review of the project design
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 Block 9 Design Review Plans, 2. Exhibit 2 Draft Resolution

Title

 

Hold a Public Hearing to Consider Design Review Approval for Block 9 at Alameda Point Site A. No further environmental review is required for this review of the project design

 

Body

 

Hold a Public Hearing to Consider Design Review Approval for Block 9 at Alameda Point Site A. No further environmental review is required for this review of the project design

 

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

 

                     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.

 

                     800 of the 1,425 total residential units programmed for Alameda Point and up to 400,000 square feet of commercial development in existing buildings, and approximately 200,000 square feet of retail and hotel space in new buildings. Residential units are provided in transit oriented, multifamily buildings 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.  Two hundred of the 800 units (25%) are restricted to very low-, low- and moderate-income households.  

 

                     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 and 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

 

Since the 2015 City Council action on the Development Plan, the Planning Board and the project proponent, Alameda Point Partners (APP), and its team of architects and design professionals have completed the Design Review applications for Blocks 11, 10, 8, 7, and 6, the Phase 1 Waterfront Park, the Neighborhood Park, and West Atlantic Avenue.  

 

Block 9 is the last remaining block in Phase I of the Site A Development that requires Planning Board Design Review approval.  In 2016, the Planning Board held several workshops to review the initial designs for Block 9. While the workshops were productive, neither City staff nor APP felt that the design for the site was improving substantially.  As a result, APP made the decision to select a new architectural firm to design the building.   

 

On May 22, 2017, the Planning Board held a study session to review the new initial design plans for Block 9, by APP’s new design firm, Pyatok Architects. The Board provided positive feedback on the initial design concepts for the building.  Since the May study session, APP, Cypress Equity Investments (APP’s investment partner for Block 9), and  Pyatok Architects have been working with staff to refine and complete the design for Block 9. 

 

At this time, staff is recommending that the Planning Board review and approve the design.  Exhibit 1 includes the Design Review application and Exhibit 2 includes a draft resolution of approval.     

 

DISCUSSION

 

Block 9 faces onto the future West Atlantic Avenue gateway to Alameda Point, transit corridor, and Cross Alameda Trail cycle track to the south. The Alameda Point Site A Neighborhood Park is located behind the building to the north, and the West Atlantic Park with the NAS Alameda fighter jet is located across the street. Commercial Block 10 with its “urban park” borders the building to the west, and the two affordable housing buildings on Block 8 border the building to the east.  Block 9 provides 200 market rate, 2-bedroom, 1-bedroom, and studio rental units and 8,700 square feet of ground floor retail space along West Atlantic Avenue as part of the Site A development.   

 

As shown in the project plans (Exhibit 1), the project design characteristics may be summarized as follows:

 

Architectural Style, Materials, and Colors.  The proposed building provides a simple, yet elegant design, with strong references to the architectural style of the Naval Air Station.   Simple white, cement plaster building forms are accented by recessed vertical elements, which are accented by either a change in materials or color.  A sloping roof parapet, metal sunshades over windows, glass panel balcony railings, and a spare use of color accent the simple building forms.   The building materials and colors include white cement plaster, tan v-groove fiber cement siding, dark blue cement accent panels, yellow metal accent panels and awnings, dark anodized aluminum storefront trim, dark bronze vinyl window frames, light blue glass and metal balcony and bridge guardrails, and perforated metal stairwell guardrails.

 

Although not within the NAS Alameda Historic District, with its strong design relationship to the architectural style of the NAS Alameda Historic District and with its location across the street from the NAS Alameda fighter jet, the building and the plane will serve as an unofficial gateway to the NAS Alameda Historic District for future visitors to Alameda Point and contribute to a seamless integration of Alameda Point with the rest of Alameda. 

Building Mass and Height.  The building is designed as a four-story structure that wraps an interior parking structure and open space court yard.   Along West Atlantic, the building provides a continuous 15-foot high floor-to-floor at the retail frontage (approx 12-foot high ceiling) with three stories of residential units above.  A roof parapet rises to approximately 59 feet at its highest point.   (The height limit on this block is 65 feet.)   On the side elevations, the design provides for four floors of housing, with access to the ground floor units provided by street-facing front doors and a small landscaped setback.   The side and rear elevations are shorter than the front elevation with a parapet that rises to approximately 50 feet. 

 

West Atlantic Frontage and the Pedestrian Experience.  Walking along the West Atlantic Avenue sidewalk, a pedestrian will experience a 20-foot wide sidewalk shaded by street trees and bordered by public on-street parking.  Along the face of the building, pedestrians will pass by an almost continuous band of approximately 12-foot high glass storefront windows facing the street. Overhead, a six-foot wide metal awning will provide shade along this south-facing elevation of the building.   

 

Along the side and rear elevations, the building provides a landscaped setback of approximately 12 feet between the face of the building and the inner edge of the public sidewalk.  As shown in the landscape plans, this landscaped setback serves two purposes: it establishes a “privacy buffer” between the ground floor unit windows and the public sidewalk, and it provides an opportunity for on-site storm water treatment, as required by Clean Water regulations.   On the rear elevation, a portion of the building is inset to provide access to the common parking structure located behind the street-fronting residential units.  

 

Housing Unit Sizes.  As depicted on page A4.10, the 200 rental units will be comprised of 69 small studios (approximately 500 square feet in size), 91 one-bedroom units (approximately 700 square feet in size) and 40 two-bedroom units (approximately 1,000 square feet in size).      The smaller, more affordable market rate, rental units are a housing type that has not been constructed in any significant number since the late 1960’s in Alameda and will serve an important underserved market in Alameda.

 

Open Space and Parking.  All of the residents of the Site A development will benefit from Site A’s 14.8 acres of public waterfront and neighborhood parks, all of which are immediately adjacent to, or within a two-block walk of, Block 9.   In addition, the residents of Block 9 will have access to an on-site fitness room, co-working space, bike repair associated with one of the bike storage rooms, outdoor dining areas and grills at the courtyard and the roof deck, a fourth floor lounge, a dog run, a bocce court, bicycle storage rooms for 204 bicycles and a parking structure for 206 cars.

 

Conformance with Policies and Plans

 

General Plan. The Block 9 design plans are consistent with, and implement, the following City of Alameda General Plan objectives and policies for the redevelopment of the former Naval Air Station:  

 

Objectives:

 

                     “Seamless integration of Alameda Point with the rest of the City”.  The Block 9 design supports a transit-oriented, mixed-use, mixed income community at Alameda Point that is in keeping with Alameda’s traditional character and scale.

                     “Fostering a vibrant new neighborhood”. The building supports a vibrant new waterfront neighborhood at Alameda Point.

                      “De-emphasizing the automobile and making new development compatible with transportation capacity”. The 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. 

                      “Creating a mixed-use environment”.  The Site A development and Block 9 include a variety of uses that promote a transit and pedestrian-friendly mixed-use environment. 

                     “Establishing neighborhood centers”.  Block 9 contributes 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. 

Policies: 

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.

 

Town Center 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 Block 9 design plans are consistent with, and implement, the following Waterfront and Town Center Specific Plan objectives, principles, and requirements:

 

“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.” 

 

Land Use.   The precise plan permits residential uses by right and requires “adaptive ground floor space” with 12-foot clear heights and “no-step” entry on the front of Block 9.   Block 9 includes 8,700 square feet of ground floor retail space and 200 housing units. 

 

Building Type and Height.  Consistent with the Precise Plan, Block 9 is a Stacked Flat building type.    The Precise Plan establishes a maximum height of 65 feet for Block 9, The Block 9 building is designed with a maximum height of 59 feet to the top of the parapet. 

 

Bulk and Massing.  As stated in the Precise Plan, “The objective of the Bulk and Massing controls is the creation of buildings that will be pedestrian scaled and visually well proportioned.”  Block 9 has been designed to be pedestrian scaled and visually well-proportioned by breaking down the overall mass of the building into a sequence of compatible and visually interesting smaller masses.   The front façade of Block 9 is comprised of three smaller vertical masses that are defined by the two vertical tower elements and a change in wall plane between each mass and the vertical column element.  On the side elevations, the massing is more significantly adjusted by the large open courtyard areas that divide the side elevations into two smaller elevations, while retaining a continuous ground floor street wall. 

 

Street wall.   To create a pedestrian-friendly environment, Block 9 exceeds the minimum 85% street wall requirement on RAMP and the 75% requirement on the side streets. 

 

Setback. To ensure ample sidewalks and public pedestrian space, Block 9 provides approximately 20 feet of setback on West Atlantic Avenue and six feet on the side streets.  With its wide sidewalk and continuous storefront windows, Block 9 will become an extension of the wide sidewalk and street-fronting retail on adjacent Block 10 and Block 11.

 

Parking.  The 206 parking spaces in the parking garage, and the 204 bicycle spaces provided in secure bicycle rooms are consistent with the maximum parking requirements and the parking design standards in the Precise Plan.  The parking will be leased separately from the residential units. 

 

A public parking lot will be provided two blocks away behind Block 11, and public on-street parking is provided in front and beside Block 9.  To preserve a pedestrian-friendly shopping and strolling environment on RAMP, access to the parking structure is provided from the street on the rear of the building.

 

Design Guidelines. The Precise Plan design guidelines shaped the architectural design of the proposed buildings.  Block 9 is designed to conform to the Precise Plan guidelines, which include:

 

Street facing facades should include architectural elements such as canopies, awnings, overhangs, projections, shading devises, recesses, signage, lighting, varying façade element depths, material and surface variety and texture intended to provide interest to the pedestrian environment.

Building facades exceeding 50 feet in length should include modulation or articulation to the street wall.  This may be achieved with one or more material, texture or fenestration pattern change, recessed building entries, recessed balconies, enclosed building area encroachments and projections, and minor setbacks of 2 feet or less.

The scale and rhythm of the façade should express the height and configuration of a residential unit through technics such as architectural detail, color, massing, and fenestration.

Multi-unit buildings should be designed with prominent entries that are inviting and clearly visible from adjacent streets.

Fenestration should be simple, human scale, elegantly proportioned and generous. Circular, trapezoidal and triangular windows are discouraged.

Exterior elements to control solar heat gain such as fins, overhangs, and horizontal sun shades are encouraged.

Garage entries should be placed on the back or side of the building. Openings should be less than 50 feet in width and less than 20% of the length of the façade.

Buildings should use “cool” exterior siding, roofing, and paving material with relatively high solar reflective index to minimize solar heat gain.

Materials should demonstrate superior performance related to moisture protection, low maintenance requirements, durability, and ultra-violate resistance.

Ground level facades should be designed with high-quality materials that offer color, variety, wear resistance, and visual interest to the pedestrian. 

Universal Design.  To address the need for Universal Design, the Block 9 design accommodates people with disabilities and people “aging in place” by: 

 

                     Providing wheelchair access to all units via an elevator or a stepless entry from the street; 

                     Constructing all kitchens and bathrooms with clearances and accommodation for individual accessibility in compliance with state and federal accessibility codes; 

                     Providing enclosed and secure auto and handicap van accessible parking.directly contiguous to primary access/egress points; and

                     Providing access to all amenity spaces via elevator with sufficient clearances for wheelchair use.

 

Sustainable Design.  To address sustainable design Block 9 buildings all three projects will meet a LEED or equivalent standard as required by Alameda Municipal Code and Site A Development Plan.  Specific features include:  

 

                     Materials and sourcing of materials responsive to current green building standards;

                     High performance building envelope;

                     Optimized daylighting and lighting controls;

                     High performance energy conserving systems for resident-controlled and metered mechanical, electrical systems, energy efficient window and roofing systems and water conserving plumbing fixtures;

                     On-site storm water collection, retention and filtration;

                     Fenestration and shading design to minimize risk of bird collisions at windows;

                     Transit oriented design and higher density site development;

                     Personal wellness promoted through opportunities for community engagement and fitness;

                     Attention to indoor air quality by minimizing usage of materials that contain high levels of VOC and formaldehyde;

                     Source materials locally where practical;

                     Bay Friendly, drought tolerant landscape materials and design with smart controllers to reduce water consumption; and

                     The design will be Green point certified.

 

Conclusion.

 

In conclusion, staff finds that the Design Review application is consistent with the General Plan, Waterfront Town Center Specific Plan, Alameda Point Zoning District, and the findings for Design Review approval required by Section 30-36 and 30-37 of the Alameda Municipal Code, and included in the draft Resolution of Approval (Exhibit 2). 

 

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 Block 9 Design Review approval. 

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Hold a public hearing and approve the draft Resolution of Approval (Exhibit 2) for Block 9.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Andrew Thomas, Assistant Community Development Director

Jennifer Ott, Base Reuse Director

 

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Block 9 Design Review Plans

2.                     Draft Resolution