Alameda Marina redevelopment given final green light

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It took 86 community meetings over many years, but plans to give the aging Alameda Marina a multi-million-dollar overhaul were this week approved by city leaders. 

It will take at least a decade to finish the facelift, but ultimately the redevelopment project, known as the Dockyard at Alameda Marina, will be a home base for boat enthusiasts, a prime location for maritime business entrepreneurs and a recreational hot spot for outdoor lovers.  

“The plan for Alameda Marina returns the waterfront to all Alamedans," said Sean Murphy, project lead for Alameda Marina Development Company. “We will create a new waterfront community with housing, jobs, a waterlife park, and a fully functioning working marina to dock, service and repair boats.”

Plans call for 530 boat slips and room for 60 boats to be stored on land, as well as the addition of several sprawling, floating classrooms, known as “ServiceShips.’’

The vessels were used during the 2013 America’s Cup boat races on the San Francisco Bay, and project leaders say they will help expand recreation and education opportunities by giving people a unique spot to launch a paddle board or kayak, hold a community meeting or put on a boating instruction or yoga class. 

“We’re excited to give residents and boat owners of Alameda access to the ServiceShip, which provides every aspect of what it means to have a state-of-the-art, environmentally efficient working marina,” said Sarah Kaplan, a manager with the American Waterlife Association, an organization that was formed to charter the Laguna Verde ServiceShip at the Alameda Marina.

Kaplan said having the ServiceShip dockside will people access to maritime services, including engine installation, marine electronics, canvas repair, and vessel maintenance in an innovative in-water environment.

The new marina will also be home to the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors, a 30-year-old non-profit organization that seeks to make all aspects of sailing accessible to people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities.

The all-volunteer group currently offers weekly small boat sailing, keelboat sailing, and veterans sailing excursions out of South Beach Marina, adjacent to AT&T Park, and participates in a variety of regattas and informal races both locally and internationally. The group serves a wide range of people, including those who have never sailed before, said vice commodore Kathi Pugh.

“(The Alameda Marina) is so perfect. It’s sheltered and it’s a great place for beginning sailors. We are really excited,'' Pugh said.

What’s more, she said, it will provide excellent access for disabled people. 

When it comes to water access, Mike Wang, the owner of Mike's Paddle on Ballena Bay in Alameda, considers himself an expert.

Last year, Wang spent 20 days maneuvering a stand up paddle board around the San Francisco Bay. Over those 220 miles on his board, Wang said he saw “good and bad access” at public marinas.

Wang said the new marina will offer better water access for his business, which offers kayaking and stand up paddleboard instruction and rentals, adventure trips, social events and racing.  

While preserving Alameda’s maritime history and maintaining a fully functional, working waterfront is at the heart of marina redevelopment, so is public access to the surrounding land.

The marina is located between Clement Avenue and the Oakland/Alameda Estuary, and redevelopment will allow for the extension of the Bay Trail with a bike-pedestrian path and open up about four acres of open space along the estuary for the first time. 

Plans also call for up to 250,000 square feet for maritime commercial uses, which could eventually double the number of jobs currently at the site, and preserving many of the historic buildings on the site.

The project will add more than 700 apartments and condominiums to Alameda’s housing supply, including 105 affordable units to help address the region’s dire housing shortage, developers said. 

Plans also call for the 4,000-foot failing seawall to be completely reconstructed, and the addition of more than $30 million in transportation, lighting and underground utility improvements, particularly along Clement Avenue.