Port of Oakland Moves Forward on Trailblazing Development of Former Army Base

A long-held vision to revitalize Oakland's decommissioned Army base is nearer to reality.

A map of the Port of Oakland shows the location of the proposed logistics center. Port officials and community leaders say that the logistics center will bring huge benfits to both the community and the port.

BC STAFF REPORT

 

A long-held vision to revitalize Oakland’s decommissioned Army base is nearer to reality. Port of Oakland Commissioners have given initial approval to a landmark deal with CenterPoint Properties for a logistics center at the former base.

 

The tentative agreement caps nearly 15 years of planning for the most-anticipated port growth project ever. Port officials said today that the agreement includes unprecedented commitments to hire local workers and to provide other benefits to the community.

 

“The future is at hand,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle. “We’ve got a great development partner, a great plan for the community and a new direction that will set us apart from competitors once the deal is fully approved.”

 

The Board of Port Commissioners voted for initial approval of the agreement in early November. The deal comes up for final vote November 30, which is after Bay Crossings press time. If Commissioners say yes a second time, the deal becomes official in January.

 

The agreement calls for industrial real estate giant CenterPoint Properties to develop a $52 million logistics facility on port property that once served as an Army supply depot. Construction would culminate 20 months of negotiations between CenterPoint and the port. The negotiations also included Revive Oakland and Oakland Works, which are coalitions of more than 30 organizations including labor, community and faith partners.

 

“This agreement will send a ripple throughout the warehousing industry as the economy transforms from brick and mortar stores to online retailing,” said Jahmese Myres, director of Revive Oakland. “At the heart, this is about ending economic racism for black and brown folks who have been locked out of good jobs.”

 

The project would be the first phase of a planned Seaport Logistics Complex that could eventually encompass nearly 180 acres. The vision for the complex: modern distribution centers, including a railyard, close to marine terminals in the heart of the port. Port officials said no other U.S. port has the land to duplicate Oakland’s marriage of transportation and logistics capabilities.

 

Work on CenterPoint’s 440,000-square-foot building could begin as early as the first quarter of 2018, the port said. Port of Oakland officials said the building would be the largest distribution facility at any U.S. West Coast port.

 

“We’re pleased to take part in an important growth project for California’s economy,” said CenterPoint Chief Development Officer Michael Murphy. “The Port of Oakland has a thoughtful vision for the future and with this agreement we can help them bring it to life and provide jobs that give people dignity and allow them to stay in Oakland.”

 

Central to the deal has been the Revive Oakland and Oakland Work Coalition’s collaboration with the Port of Oakland and CenterPoint to develop a groundbreaking jobs policy. The policy is envisioned as an economic driver and job generator. Among the stipulations:

 

Preferences for hiring local residents, particularly those in neighborhoods nearest to the port;

Special consideration for disadvantaged residents, including the chronically unemployed, single parents, formerly incarcerated and military veterans;

Living wages and benefits; and

Funding for a local, community-based workforce development partner, the West Oakland Job Resource Center, to train workforce candidates and provide the opportunity to refer job applicants.

 

 

The port estimated that the facility could create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs in Oakland. “As the Port of Oakland grows, we also ensure that our neighboring communities benefit from our success,” said Amy Tharpe, the port’s social responsibility director. “Giving local residents from all backgrounds access to good, family-sustaining jobs is central to this project.”

 

Community leaders also hailed the agreement.  “This agreement is part of the growing grassroots movement across the country to win locally and set in motion a wave of larger national change,” said Nikki Fortunato Bas, executive director of the Partnership for Working Families. “This is how we take back our cities, our communities and our democracy: policy by policy on the local level.”

 

The Army decommissioned its Oakland base in the late 1990s. Since then, planners have envisioned a logistics campus that could further strengthen Oakland’s role as a global trade gateway. The port received about 187 acres of the property between 2003 and 2007. The City of Oakland received a similar parcel.

 

The Seaport Logistics Complex will be located off Maritime Street near Oakland’s Outer Harbor. The port initiated development there last year with the opening of a $100 million railyard.

 

Under terms of its deal with the port, CenterPoint Properties would construct and manage the first building at the complex. Tenants would likely include companies requiring transloading. That’s the process of transferring cargo between trucks, trains and vessels for shipment. Transloading is common near West Coast ports, but Oakland would become one of the few ports able to perform the task within its boundaries.

 

“We’ll provide the most efficient and most cost-effective means of delivering cargo,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “That will be a major driver of our growth in the years ahead.”