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OAKLAND, CA-The City Council this week is set to finalize an RFP for a 108-acre redevelopment of the former Oakland Army Base at the foot of the Bay Bridge in West Oakland. The would-be master developers, five well known names that were chosen earlier this year via an RFQ, will receive the document in the next 30 days and have until February to create a winning proposal.

The city is looking for “a dynamic mixed-use development that will take advantage of the site’s unique location to generate a diverse array of jobs that serve a range of employment needs for Oakland residents and create an attractive gateway to the city,” according to Gregory Hunter, Deputy Director of Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency. Also reflected in the RFP are the expectations of the city’s Economic Development Agency Board, whose vision “emphasizes commercial and industrial uses, green development, high-quality jobs, attractive design, and community benefits.”

The development strategy is the result of two years of analysis and community workshops. City staff used several consulting firms, including Bay Area Economics, to examine the market potential and feasibility of attracting different industries in the Army Base. BAE’s managing principal Janet Smith-Heimer says her firm sees the site as offering “the opportunity to bring new clean tech industries and green collar jobs to the City, as details of the project are fleshed out.”

After the Agency Board makes final comments on the RFP language, staff will issue the RFP to the four developer teams–AMB/California Capital Group, Federal Development, First Industrial Realty Trust, and ProLogis/Catellus. Proposals will be due in February 2009. The proposals will be analyzed and then brought back to the Agency Board for discussion.

The RFQ/RFP process comes on the heels of a run at the site made by a joint venture of Hollywood’s Wayans brothers and Los Angeles-based Pacifica Capital Group, which previously signed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the city for the acquisition and development of the site. Their plan, Destination Oakland, called for a 435,000-sf film production studio and creative office center, as well as 480,000 sf of retail, entertainment and educational offerings.

The Port of Oakland, reportedly not taking kindly to the potential for complaints about noise, traffic and air pollution, reintroduced long-standing plans for extending a six-story wall of containers such that it would block prime views from a significant portion of the property. “With containers on two sides, there would be no compelling reason why a creative company would want to come here from Emeryville, San Francisco, LA or anywhere else,” Shuford told GlobeSt.com last fall, when he was still hoping the City would help the Port change its mind about the defensive move.

Once it became clear that the City was not going to be able to change the Port’s mind, the Wayans/Pacifica plans for a decidedly non-industrial development fell by the wayside and four industrial specialists were selected for the second go-round. The City’s “preferred scenario” is for the 108-acre area to be developed into”complementary commercial and industrial uses that can attract key industries to Oakland, create livable-wage jobs, and create a signature gateway into the city. “Specific uses should focus on innovative technologies, green technologies, trade and logistics, and other strategic business sectors,” according to the RFP.

The scenario allows for retail (including both neighborhood-serving and destination retail) and hotels but only as a secondary use, and requires the master developer to accommodate two smaller stand-alone projects in the development: the Oakland Film & Media Center and the Oakland Produce Market.

Under the proposed timeline, staff would prepare and issue the RFP within the next 30 days, with proposals due Feb. 2, 2009. Developer interviews would be held in April and May and one or more proposals would be recommended to the City Council in June. This time next year, the City would be back in exclusive negotiations with a new would-be master developer.

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