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Old Posted Mar 28, 2008, 6:00 PM
BTinSF BTinSF is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: San Francisco & Tucson
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Friday, March 28, 2008
Oakland draws 13 proposals for ex-Army base
San Francisco Business Times - by Eric Young

Thirteen companies are vying to build new offices, upscale stores or other projects on Oakland's former Army Base, stoking hopes among redevelopment officials for an iconic development that will invigorate what is now a ho-hum assemblage of industrial buildings.

The developers include large national players like AMB Property Corp. and ProLogis and small local interests such as the Oakland Film Center. Redevelopment officials declined to provide details on the concepts that were submitted, saying that information will get a public airing before the City Council by June. City development officials, who issued a request for proposals after a plan by the Wayan brothers for a movie studio on the property fell through, told developers that they want to consider a wide range of projects.

Possible projects include warehousing or other logistics facilities, an upscale shopping center, office space for biotechnology, life sciences, film production, multimedia or green technology.

"We're quite satisfied with the level of interest we've received, primarily because there is such a wide range of development teams wanting to do a variety of things," said Gregory Hunter, deputy director of Oakland's Community and Economic Development Agency.

City officials and residents will follow the development proposals closely, given the size and strategic location of the base.

"It's a very very important property," said Nancy Nadel, the Oakland councilwoman whose district includes the base property. A new development there "could provide lots of jobs. There are all kinds of opportunities for that site. We want something that has some pizzazz."

Proposals for 108 acres on the Oakland Army Base have come and gone since the military abandoned the site in 1999. Past ideas floated for the area include a casino and hotel, a new Major League baseball park for the Oakland A's and state-of-the-art movie studio and retail center. One by one those ideas failed to gain traction either due to political opposition or difficulties in securing financing.

Meanwhile the Port of Oakland wants the land as well. The port, as it seeks to compete with other West Coast facilities, has already taken over about half the land of the army's former base. It would like the remaining 108 acres at the southeast base of the Bay Bridge for greater rail and warehouse capacity.

Port supporters like Steve Lowe say shipping and logistics uses at the Army base property make sense. "We're hoping a more industrial profile will emerge," said Lowe, a leader of the West Oakland Commerce Association. Concentrating industrial businesses on the base property will lead to greater efficiencies for trucks and other port users, he said. Oakland redevelopment officials have begun vetting the technical merits of the 13 proposals that were submitted earlier this month. A number of the companies interested in the Army Base -- such as AMB Property Corp., First Industrial Realty Trust Inc. and PCC Logistics -- specialize in warehouse, distribution or industrial facilities.

At least one developer, Dallas-based Hillwood, is known for high-rise condominiums, offices and mixed-use buildings.

The base, like many former military sites, needs environmental cleanup as well as new roads and modern infrastructure. In addition, the base sits on landfill, meaning new buildings may need piles or other costly foundation systems to meet seismic safety standards.

Oakland is already planning some developments for other areas of the Army Base. The city is negotiating for an auto mall that includes dealerships from BMW, Volvo and General Motors on 28 acres on the base's northern boundary. Another 15 acre parcel likely will be leased to Oakland Maritime Support Services for a trucking center. / (415) 288-4969
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