Port of Oakland commissioners give final approval to large distribution center

Port of Oakland commissioners have given final approval to a distribution center at the former Army Base in West Oakland that they say will be the largest distribution center on the West Coast.
Port officials said the 440,000-square-foot seaport logistics complex, which is adjacent to the Port's rail yard, is a game-changer for global trade and transportation.
"There's not anything like it on the U.S. West Coast," John Driscoll, the Port's Maritime Director, said in a statement.
Driscoll said, "This complex will make it faster and cheaper to import and export containerized goods internationally than ever before."
The agreement, which received initial approval in early November and final approval on Thursday evening, calls for industrial real estate giant CenterPoint Properties, which is based in Oak Brook, Ill., to develop the logistics facility on Port of Oakland property that once served as an Army supply depot.
It will be located off Maritime Street near Oakland's Outer Harbor, across the street from marine terminals where container ships berth in Oakland. 
Construction of the logistics center, which has been planned for nearly 15 years, could begin early next year.
The agreement culminates 20 months of negotiations between CenterPoint, the port, and Revive Oakland and Oakland Works, which are coalitions of more than 30 organizations, including labor, community and faith partners.
Port of Oakland officials said the project will be the first phase of a planned seaport logistics complex that could eventually encompass nearly 180 acres.
CenterPoint officials said the distribution center will be the largest warehouse-style building at any U.S. West Coast port and will be one of only a few in the nation where cargo can be transloaded within a port's footprint for transport by ship, truck or train. 
That helps international shippers cut transportation costs while reducing shipment time.
CenterPoint Chief Development Officer Michael Murphy said, "This is a unique opportunity."
Murphy said, "There are very few places in North America where we can develop a logistics facility of this size which will effectively accommodate the efficient movement and delivery of goods that are critical to the economic health of a city and provide meaningful jobs for area residents."
Port officials said they will lease property to CenterPoint, which will manage the facility.
The Port's agreement with CenterPoint includes a jobs policy giving hiring priority to residents from the neighboring community in Oakland.
Community activists have hailed the agreement as a national model for equitable development and job creation that strengthens local communities.