ALBANY, CA-Caruso Affiliated and Magna Entertainment Corp. on Thursday unveiled their plans for the redevelopment of 45 acres of parking lots behind the historic Golden Gate Fields racetrack. The racetrack is located on the water side of Interstate 580, which runs along the east side of San Francisco Bay. The development, which is subject to a vote of Albany residents, would replace some of the parking with a large retail development, apartments and a hotel while also opening up the waterfront to public access for the first time in 65 years.

All of the commercial development–450,000 sf of open-air retail topped with 200 apartments and an 80-room boutique hotel–is proposed for eight of the 45 acres. The rest of the property will be remade into open space, restored beaches and parks, as well as an expanded salt marsh on the north side of the race track, all traversed by a permanent San Francisco Bay Trail.

The centerpiece of the open space is a proposed 2.25-acre park atop Fleming Point, which rises 40 feet above the water providing views of the entire San Francisco Bay. As part of the project, a large portion of the Golden Gate Fields grandstand would be taken down, improving the views from atop Fleming Point. The proposed design also includes a rebuilt fishing pier and small boat and kayak access.

Magna Entertainment, owner of Golden Gate Fields, selected Caruso in 2004 to create a plan for a new retail, entertainment and community-serving destination for the property. In an effort to gain the support of Albany residents by allowing them to help shape the development, Caruso Affiliated conducted 14 neighborhood meetings in different Albany homes during the summer and held close to 100 meetings with elected officials, school officials, community and business leaders and city staff.

As further incentive, Magna estimates that the sales tax revenue generated by the project could provide an additional $2 million annually to the city, which would represent an 18% increase to the city’s General Fund. Golden Gate Fields currently accounts for 5% of the city’s General Fund revenue.

Caruso Affiliated typically holds its properties long term. The company is best known for developing The Grove in Los Angeles. Caruso Affiliated namesake Rick Caruso was not available Thursday afternoon to discuss the project.

Albany residents have the final say on whether any development will happen due to Measure C. Approved in 1990, the measure requiring a vote on any major zoning change at Golden Gate Fields. No vote has been scheduled.

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