Brooklyn Basin Rendering

With only 241 of the fully-entitled project’s 3,100 units of housing to rise on the Brooklyn Basin site along Oakland’s waterfront currently under construction, the Signature Development Group is now seeking approval to add another 600 apartments to the project’s total.

As proposed, the additional units could be “accommodated” within the building envelopes for the development as already approved, without any changes to heights, massings or setbacks. But if approved, the overall timeline to complete the Brooklyn Basin development, which was expected to be completed by 2029, would be extended to 2038.

In addition to the increased density, Signature’s proposed changes also include an additional 158 boat slips around the future Shoreline Park, a new water taxi loading dock, and the potential flexibility to shift the approved locations of the development’s five towers which are currently entitled to rise up to 240 feet apiece.

Oakland’s Planning Commission will comment, but not act, on the proposed amendments to the previously approved development agreement for the Brooklyn Basin site, and its potential impacts, tomorrow, October 17. A Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for the project, which would need to be approved, is expected to be published in the first or second quarter of 2019.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Notcom

    This seems to be a recurrent problem – or is it just an “issue”? – we see on SS where someone limps along, but asks for (seemingly) endless extensions; usually accompanied by downsizing…here we have the plot twist of a bigger project. My usual thought is the project just isn’t viable anymore, but sometimes we see tell a deadbeat “no”, they sell to someone else and the pumpkin magically turns into the carriage…at last.

    • Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker

      That’s another reason governments should prefer ground leases over sales. If the Port of Oakland had leased all this land to the developer, under a valuation congruent with the proposed development plans, the developer would have a much greater incentive to get their project moving. On the other hand it’s clear that paying $18m for 60+ acres of land was not really an issue and the developer can just carry that empty land forever.

      • Posted by Notcom

        Leasing is great when the property is in high demand – I believe the Astor’s made most of their fortune ( later, after the fur) by leasing out their NYC properties – but in this case I think the incentive was to “monetize” it as quickly as possible….it’s been a wasteland for most of a century.

        • Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker

          There’s a tradeoff between up-front lump sums and perpetual income streams, of course. But the point is the Port gave up all control when they took the lump sum. Nobody can force this developer to make progress and because of our tax regime they don’t even have a financial incentive to do it. If we had a highest-and-best-use tax system then I wouldn’t be concerned, but we don’t. We have prop 13. 99-year ground leases are a great workaround for property tax problems.

          • Posted by Notcom

            I agree with you – or at least don’t disagree with you – as to the broader governance issues, but my main focus has been on whether/not it’s built…so the financial incentive comes from the market itself (developing the property has more value than landbanking it); add’l incentives might be nice, but as you note they’re not at play here. The Port’s history of R/E development is rather checkered…nowhere near as successful as its record in logistics.

  2. Posted by Martin

    Happy to see additional boat slips. Bay Area does a poor job of taking advantage of the waterfront except for promenades. Restaurants, guest docks, kayak launches are a rare thing when you compare to what you have in Florida and other countries.

    How much more fun would it be for tourists to rent a kayak or SUP, go on a water for a little, tie it up to a pier next to a restaurant for lunch. Then go back on kayak for some more exploring.

    • Posted by Patrick

      Florida’s waters are warmer and calmer than the cold, choppy bay.

      • Posted by Matt of Uptown

        Brooklyn Basin is on the placid Oakland Estuary. Paddle sports are already fairly popular so I imagine boat slips would be popular too, there are already 800+ directly across on the Alameda side.

  3. Posted by MKP

    20 years???

    • Posted by Irving F

      Seriously. This makes no sense, all those apartments can be filled immediately based on the region’s housing shortage. Why does the timeline stretch out so long, and why does it need to be extended another 10 years?

  4. Posted by oakland lover

    LOVE IT. Cant wait for this to build out and I hope they add much more density and height. Then….Bart infill station please. San Antonio station right?

    • Posted by Notcom

      It’s a remarkably bad place for a station – on a grade, at the entrance to the Oakland Y tunnel … you may wish to consider things before you ask the Genie and use up all three wishes on this one project.

      • Posted by shawn

        Are you sure about that? Original BART plans had a San Antonio station between Lake Merritt and Fruitvale, and when (if?) a second transbay tunnel is built, one of the landing points in Oakland would potentially be at San Antonio station along E 8th St around 14th Ave. MTC study here, relevant portion with maps starts on page 46.

        • Posted by oakland lover

          Great study I read in detail, thanks for sharing, and ya San Antonio is there for sure:

          “New transfer station at San Antonio: A new transfer station in the San Antonio district in Oakland would potentially provide connections for travelers heading to destinations along the Warm Springs or Dublin/Pleasanton lines, similar to the way MacArthur Station functions for the
          Richmond and Pittsburg/Bay Point lines. ”

          Yes please. And how about running a line straight up Broadway to connect back to the Antioch line ar Rockridge or something like that. So more trains can run along the Antioch line, which is a mess.

          Antioch=> SF via Market (current)
          Antioch => SF via Alameda / SOMA new tube…..which would also have the JLS station and a San antonio infill….its like what they show on the map but a bit more.

          One can and should dream.

        • Posted by Notcom

          I’m not sure I understand your question: yes, I’m sure the BART tracks opposite this site are as I described them (you can see it readily on a map); as for a station in San Antonio being “original”(ly) proposed: if you mean the c1957 Parsons-Brickerhoff Plan, then I don’t recall such, but I may be mistaken. But whatever was or wasn’t planned, there’s nothing there now.

          Somewhat of a side note – or maybe not, considering this thread is about Oakland – but comparing your study with SPUR’s fairly ebullient one for DO just a few years ago (pp13) it’s not hard to see why a developer is confused about the trajectory of the area. The MTC offers the standard SanFrancentric view of the Eastbay as ‘lebensraum’ for SF, so perhaps Signature has become sold on that view…self-defeating tho it may be.

      • Posted by Patrick

        Ideally, there would be a street car or light rail that would run along the Oakland Waterfront linking West Oakland BART Station, Howard Terminal, Jack London Square, Lake Merritt BART Station, Brooklyn Basin and Fruitvale BART Station, with a branch going up Broadway to Old Oakland/Chinatown, Oakland City Center and Uptown.

        • Posted by Irving F

          This would indeed be ideal!

        • Posted by Invented

          Love idea of light rail along the East Bay waterfront — would starting father north make sense? Might help connect more communities and provide a good transit alternative. New York is currently exploring light rail along the east side of the East River from Astoria down to Red Hook.

        • Posted by Notcom

          Yes we certainly need (even) more money losing public transit, perhaps we can pay for it with a parcel tax. I happen to have my current Property Tax Bill in front of me and of the $1279.22 in “Fixed Charges and Assessments” on it I have $96 for AC Transit (Measure VV) – so what’s a little more, right? – and .007% for BART – which is only $4.49 under a Prop 13 assessment but would probably be 10x that at market rates….and in addition, of course, we have the 1/2% – or is it now 3/4%…1%? – sales tax surcharge for BART.

          Think I’ll pass on this one.

        • Posted by Some Guy

          Well, AC Transit / Oakland have a major BRT project underway, going from DT Oakland to San Leandro. Unlike quite a few other promised pies-in-the-Oakland-skies, this project is well underway with construction ongoing all up and down International Blvd.

          On the main subject of this posting, I sure hope the footings of these (and any) new residential towers built near waters’ edge go all the way down to bedrock.

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