276-Acre Point Molate Project Moves Forward in Richmond Following Court Ruling 

Superior Court of the State of California, Irvine, SunCal, Pointe Molate, Richmond, U.S. Navy, Dahlin Group, Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Oakland, Point Molate Alliance, SPRAWLDEF, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Golden Gate Audubon Society, California Native Plant Society, Ocean Awareness Project

By Catherine Sweeney 

A 276-acre master planned community in Richmond has received clearance, following a ruling made by the Superior Court of the State of California earlier this week. The project, which environmental groups had previously attempted to block, will be developed by Irvine-based SunCal at Pointe Molate, a waterfront site formerly occupied by the U.S. Navy. 

“We are very pleased with the Superior Court’s decision,” said Stephan Elieff, Chief Executive Officer of SunCal. “Since the Navy left in 1996, only a very small portion of the property was open to the public. Now, when the project is complete, over 70 percent of the site will remain open space which will include hiking trails, a restored Historic Winehaven District, as well as access to an expanded beach park. Point Molate is a very important project that will alleviate the regional housing crisis.” 

With designs from Dahlin Group, the development proposes a mix of residential, commercial, civic and transportation uses at the site as well as 193 acres of parks, trails and open space. In total, the development will include 1,452 residential units – 185 single family homes, 241 townhomes and 1,026 apartments and condominiums – 55,000 retail and restaurant uses, 383,774 square feet of office/research and development space, a 5,000 square-foot transit service terminal and 10,000 square feet dedicated to a fire and police station. 

Located on the San Pablo Peninsula, just north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Point Molate formerly served the U.S. Navy as a fuel storage and transfer facility. The Navy owned the site from 1942 until September of 1995, when it was closed under the U.S. Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990. 

SunCal was selected to develop the site by the Richmond City Council in March of 2020. The development company was founded in 1930 and currently has 10,000 acres under management and is in the process of 23 projects nationwide. The company also has previous experience developing master planned communities on former Naval sites. In the Bay Area, the company is developing  the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland with 900 homes, commercial space and trails. 

The developer’s plans were petitioned by a number of environmental groups, including Point Molate Alliance, SPRAWLDEF, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Golden Gate Audubon Society, California Native Plant Society, Ocean Awareness Project and numerous other Richmond residents. The groups tried to block the project, citing concerns about the affordability of the development for Richmond citizens as well as potential environmental risks to the waterfront site. 

“Point Molate should be preserved as a park for all Richmond residents to enjoy — not sold off for a luxury housing development for a wealthy few. The Community Plan proposed by and for Richmond residents is far more equitable, economically prudent, and environmentally sensitive.” Pam Stello, co-chair of Point Molate Alliance, said at the time the lawsuit was initiated. 

However, the Court rejected many of the environmental claims made by the petitioners, stating they were not supported by substantial evidence and were instead based on complaints and fears founded in speculation. Currently in escrow with the City, SunCal is to begin developing immediately upon close. 

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