Alameda aims to build state-mandated housing on former naval base

Builders would pay $100,000 per market-rate unit to U.S. Navy after first 1,282 units at Alameda Point

Councilmember Tony Daysog with Alameda Point (Twitter, Google Maps)
Councilmember Tony Daysog with Alameda Point (Twitter, Google Maps)

The City of Alameda is now targeting a former Navy base to build enough homes to satisfy its state housing goal – but a 25-year-old deal with the Navy could sink future development.

The East Bay city must build 5,353 new homes in the next eight years, 42 percent of them affordable, the East Bay Times reported. It aims to line them up in Alameda Point, a former naval base with 2,800 acres of buildable land.

There’s one catch: when the Naval Air Station Alameda closed in 1997, the property was given to the city under the condition it could build up to 1,282 market-rate homes – after which the U.S. Navy would charge developers $100,000 per market-rate housing unit.

And that presents a challenge to an island city with little room to build its required housing, and a quandary to developers hoping to pencil out affordable housing units with market-rate homes.

Late last year, the city appointed negotiators hoping to scuttle the $100,000-per-home requirement, City Councilmember Tony Daysog said.

Discussions are “ongoing,” Anthony Megliola, the former Navy base closure manager, told the newspaper.

Thousands of homes built on the former base would add traffic to the ferry pier on Seaplane Bay and drive customers to nearby shopping – from the Spirits Alley bar district to the Webster Street corridor and the Alameda Landing mall further east, Daysog said.

Developments there could also get the attention of BART, which in 2018 began to plan a line into Alameda.

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The Navy closed the World War II-era base as part of its national base realignment, dealing the city an economic blow. The renamed Alameda Point is now a tangle of grassy fields, military depots and sunbleached streets. A brewery-winery district and ferry pier are among its few attractions.

The base became an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in 1999, followed by land cleanups, waste transfers and decontamination.

The Navy’s charge of $100,000 per market-rate home is meant to steer the former base toward “job generation and redevelopment” rather than just housing, Megliola said.

Of the state’s “housing element” mandate for 5,353 units in Alameda, 15 percent are supposed to be affordable citywide, and 25 percent affordable on the former base.

Between 2018 and this year, builders completed 544 market-rate apartments and 128 affordable units at Alameda Point, near Seaplane Lagoon, according to city records. From 2023 through 2031, the city plans to build 1,489 market-rate and affordable units on 58.5 acres of the old base, as well as on nearby private land, a city spokesperson said,

[East Bay Times] – Dana Bartholomew

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