After securing a financing agreement with Swiss banking giant UBS, Oakland-based Signature Development Group will finally break ground on a $1.5 billion, 65-acre project that when finished will feature 3,100 units, 32 acres of open parks and trails, a 200-boat slip marina and a retail destination that is looking to transform an old, industrial part of Oakland into a vibrant and new neighborhood.
The relationship between UBS and Signature was brokered by John McCulloch, executive managing director of ARA in San Francisco, according to Signature’s Executive Vice President Paul Nieto.
Signature Development came on to the project after being selected by the Port of Oakland as the master developer in 2001. The project went through years of securing approvals from various entities, lawsuits and the Great Recession before reaching the point of getting started.
The developers behind Brooklyn Basin include Signature Development Group and Zarsion Holdings Group Ltd., a Chinese investor that committed $1.5 billion to build out the project over the next 15 years. The development is subdivided into five phases, and phase one, which kicks off with Signature’s development will have five buildings and park developed.
“Brookly Basis is about bring the waterfront back and creating a new neighborhood that involves that waterfront, involves the historic center of [Oakland] and involves bringing people to and from those places,” said Signature’s President Michael Ghielmetti in a statement. “Brooklyn Basin is the culmination of years of planning and community input and will revitalize this part of Oakland’s historic waterfront.”
The first project, parcel 11 or B, depending which plans one is reviewing, is called Terrace Apartments, and it is set to break ground in April 2017. The development is a 241-unit apartment project that Signature and UBS will embark on with an expected completion date of late 2018 or early 2019. San Francisco’s BAR Architects designed the structure and worked in conjunction with Bruce Jett Associates as the landscape architects and BKF Engineers, who is providing civil engineering services. The project was approved by the City Council in September of 2016.
Paul Nieto stated that the project will have some ground floor retail, full amenities with a gym, a roof deck, BBQ areas, shared workspace and community rooms. Most of the units are planned to have a water view and the building will be across the street from Shoreline Park, an eight-acre park that is projected to be slightly larger than San Francisco’s Marina Green, which was approved by the city in December of 2015.
The majority of the buildings of the proposed project are under 8 stories tall, but the proposal includes several high-rise towers ranging from 20 to 24 stories. Most of the Ninth Avenue Terminal building would be demolished and replaced by park area, though about 9 percent of this historic structure would be preserved, according to the Waterfront Action’s Web site.
In 2006, the City of Oakland approved a plan to demolish most of the Ninth Avenue Terminal building and start to solicit proposals for redevelopment of the area. In response to a request for proposals from the City, Placeworks LLC has submitted a proposal for a “Vintner’s Hall,” to be used by wineries of the the East Bay Vintners’ Alliance, and to include a restaurant and water-oriented recreational retail facility.
Signature’s development partner, Zarsion America Inc., the financial driving force behind much of the Brooklyn Basin development just closed on the parcel that will be the second development to start on the project site, said Nieto. That development, also an apartment complex is projected to start in early 2018, according to Nieto, and given that it is a year behind, it is also scheduled to be completed toward the end of 2019 or early 2020.
“Oakland has a lot of potential. Some people were a little bit worried about the city, but that’s why we are here,” said Arthur Wang, president of Zarsion America Inc., the division of Zarsion managing the Brooklyn Basin investment in a statement. “We want to contribute to this community.”
The 3,100 unit waterfront development is slated to include 465 affordable units.
The new homes would be geared toward workforce housing, serving families and seniors making up to 60 percent of Area Median Income, which is $55,740 a year for a family of four. Construction on these affordable units is estimated to start in spring of 2018, with the first phase available for lease in the fall of 2019.
MidPen Housing, one of Northern California’s largest non-profit developers and owners of affordable housing, has been selected to build the affordable units, according to the company’s Web site.