The Request for Qualifications and Proposal process for developer selection for the Oakland Army Base was long, open, transparent, included significant community outreach, and participation. The project development team has been rigorously vetted and scrutinized and has met every reasonable test. It is now time to move forward.
The Oakland City Council had sought a re-use for the former Oakland Army base since 1997 two full years before its eventual closing in 1999.
The Army permitted the City of Oakland to operate the Oakland Army Base property under a lease in further of conveyance, thereby enabling Oakland to initiate a short term leasing program which continued after the 2004 transfer from the department of Defense to the City of Oakland. After the transfer date the Oakland was required under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission regulations to bank and account for collected revenues by way of a reinvestment act account for future reinvestment in the subject properties infrastructure.
There were several attempts to re-develop the property since 1999, from a multicultural eco village, an auto mall, Indian casino, big box retail center, film studio and amusement park. The latter being pursued with a 2 year, sole sourced exclusive negotiating agreement, which did not go through an open, transparent, and competitive process.
None of the proposed projects resulted in a project, significant due diligence, master planning, infrastructure planning, entitlements, community benefits negotiations, permits, or grant applications or awards.
In 2007 Oakland announced it would issue an RFQ/RFP process to invite developers to compete, submit proposals and form a team of consultant, to bring ideas and plans that the private developers would be willing to put their capital behind, and take the risk that such ideas would find market acceptance and result in a commercially viable enterpise.
In 2008 14 developers submitted proposals and 13 were evaluated resulting in the selection of 4 finalist invited to submit to a RFP process. In 2009 a team was selected to enter into exclusive negotiations.
As an imperative, the Oakland City Council directed their staff to insist that the project be at fair market value along with a host of other pre-conditions.
There were a dozen public hearings and 93 community meetings and presentations over the course of the 5 years. The private developers have spent roughly $5,000,000 in the pursuit of the project and the City has invested roughly $6,000,000 to date.
On October, 23 2012 the Oakland City Council, on a 8-0-1 vote certified CEQA for the proposed project, adopted the master plan and basis of design, and voted to enter into a 66 year Lease and Disposition and Development Agreement.
The project developers had successfully secured and evidenced $179,000,000 of private capital and institutional commitments to match $242,000,000 of State of California proposition 1b Trade Corridor Improvement funds, $15,000,000 of federal TIGER funds, and $54,900,000 from the City of Oakland, the lion share of which was derived from the reinvestment act monies mentioned and the balance from the sale of certain land parcels that were not part of the state lands or federal land transfer to Deliver a $484,000,000 initial phase of the project, effecting more than 120 acres of the land conducted under a landmark Community Jobs Agreement.
Originally constructed in 1941 and designed to support the second world war, the 71 year old collection of warehouses and infrastructure systems has fallen into functional obsolescence and disrepair, is an open Department of Toxic and Substance Controls Remedial Action Plan site, loses over 2 million gallons of water per month due to leaking pipes, and is roughly 50 percent occupied.
15 years after the initial planning effort, and 13 years since the closing and decommissioning of the Oakland Army Base, and 5 years since the begging of the RFQ/RFP process for developer selection the final master plan, entitlements, Lease Disposition and Development Agreement, and financing is in place to restore and repurpose the former base property. The project is gearing up to commence in July of 2013 delivering a new industrial district and a working waterfront to Oakland creating thousands of good paying jobs (direct, induced, and retained).
Some individuals have argued for a do over, a delay, the “carve out”, a set aside. Some media outlets have reported concerns of the approved billboards, the proposed land uses, and the delivery method of construction. Further, some of the existing short term tenants have resisted relocation embracing the notion that they are owed something other than what they bargin for with a below market, short term lease at the former base. The pending utility dislocation, building deconstruction and material import make the retention of the tenants on the site impossible.
Fairness, respect for the process, and the over 1788 pages of the approved, executed, and recordered Lease Dispostion and Development Agreement support that it is now time to move forward and realize the potential of the Oakland Army Base re-use project.