OAKLAND -- The $1 billion effort to redevelop Oakland's former Army Base into a jobs-generating logistics and warehousing center took a major step forward Tuesday when city leaders and developers signed off on a series of key agreements.
The agreements, which cover nearly 1,700 pages of legal documents, spell out the terms for one of the region's largest public private partnerships that aims to create several thousand blue-collar jobs for Oakland residents and help the Port of Oakland stay competitive.
"This is about job creation and realizing the vision of a working waterfront," developer Phil Tagami said after a brief ceremony at City Hall. Construction work is scheduled to begin in June.
The Army abandoned the 366-acre base in 1999, and later divided it between the port and the city. After several proposals fell through, the city opted for Tagami and Prologis' proposal to transform much of the base into a logistics center managing the flow of cargo at the adjacent port. The center is expected to lure companies throughout the region, reducing truck traffic in Oakland.
"After a decade of work and delay, this is one of the most important engines for economic growth in Oakland history and will provide 5,000 good jobs," Mayor Jean Quan said.
The proposal also includes road and rail improvements, a deep water port terminal to handle goods too big for shipping containers, and up to five billboards the city hopes will generate
The finalized agreements close the door on a vocal effort to block the billboards, which opponents say aren't worth the blight they'll cause near the Bay Bridge.
Naomi Schiff, a billboard opponent, who was scheduled to address the issue this week with council members, was caught off guard by deals being finalized on Tuesday.
"I consider this a real disaster," she said. "We have spent all this money to make our bridge look extra elegant, and now we'll have these billboards marring our view."
The agreements may also hinder efforts to more strictly enforce protocols for contractors to hire Oakland residents. Councilmember Desley Brooks had pushed for the city to closely monitor and sanction contractors that don't comply with the local hire requirements. The council, which approved the Army Base project in June, is scheduled to consider the issue next Tuesday.
But with the key agreements now signed, any changes to those policies will now require the developer's consent. Tagami said he'll work with the city but wouldn't pledge to support any changes to the existing policies.
City officials and developers said they had been working for weeks to finalize the deals.
The council next week also is scheduled to consider the powers of a commission that will oversee the local hire guidelines. Community leaders are unhappy with an updated proposal that would require city approval for enforcement actions sought by the commission.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.