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Berkeley Lab Update: New Racetrack Plan Includes Hotel, 70% Open Space

Open houses with developers at Golden Gate Fields will continue on Monday nights. A city task force on the endeavor will continue on Sundays, with a schedule to be determined as materials become available.

A new plan by developers at to be selected as the second campus for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was met with applause Monday night by dozens of Albany residents. 

The plan includes increased open space and a 12-story hotel just east of Fleming Point in Albany.

More than 80 people attended two sessions Monday night hosted by Golden Gate Fields developers to unveil the new plan. 

"Thank you for responding to the needs of Albany," said former Mayor Allan Maris. "We tout ourselves as a green community. This is bringing green technology to our Green Corridor. We will be a hub of green technology. You're giving us park and open space. You're listening to us, so thank you very much."

Golden Gate Fields is one of six finalists in the running to become the second campus site; Berkeley Lab has set the end of November as its deadline for making its choice.

(Read more about the project and selection process on Albany Patch here.)

Monday night's presentation is attached here as a PDF.

The site plan is the second iteration of designs that have been in the works for the past several months. Development manager Wei Chiu said there likely will be two more versions of the plan, though changes are slated to be small in comparison with what was presented Monday. 

The plan includes 70 percent open space in Albany, up from 60 percent in the last version of the development. Berkeley's open space is listed as 40 percent, or 11.6 acres.

Albany's open space is set to include a nearly 40-acre waterfront park; a 22.2-acre Codornices Creek wooded area; a 7.5-acre north-south promenade through the open campus; and 5.4 acres of east-west connectors from one side of the site to the other. 

Also new to the plan is a 12-story hotel and conferencing center just east of Fleming Point. A second hotel is planned on the Berkeley side of the development.

Building heights throughout the site have been reduced, said architect Steve Guest. Many of the structures would reach 65 feet, with several on the site reaching 90 feet. 

A parking podium that was proposed to cover the majority of the site has been removed due to Berkeley Lab concerns about costs; parking instead will be situated around the site in garages. A "four-tray" parking structure is planned for the east side of Fleming Point, which will be covered by usable park land. (This endeavor would be part of later development phases of the project.)

A single road that formerly split the property has been redesigned to circle the development, giving vast Bay views and a more impressive "entry experience."

Read more about the process for selecting the proposed second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Albany Patch here.

Want updates when we write future stories on this topic? Click the green "Keep me posted" button below.

Everybody makes mistakes ... ! If there's something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at emilier@patch.com.

Emilie Raguso October 11, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Worth noting: Developers said we could have a Measure C vote as soon as June. Also, that the hotel in Albany would make the city whole, and plug the gap left by the racetrack.
Eleanor Kilroy October 11, 2011 at 03:42 PM
When they say 70% open space, are they referring to unbuilt land, or does that mean 70% landscaped and accessible to the public? How will the bike trail continuation be handled? How will bikers go from the sports field complex to the north trail, by the entrance to the "bulb?"
Paul Kamen October 11, 2011 at 04:39 PM
The bike trail splits, with a direct north-south route near the freeway and a scenic route following the shoreline. There was also some discussion of extending Solano Ave. westward for bike/pedestrian access, underpassing the freeway and railroad tracks for an alternate bike entry that does not involve Buchanan. Details not yet developed, but you can see the likely route on the site plans. The time-line for full build-out might be very long, so they promise landscaping on all unbuilt areas as the project evolves. We'll see. The plan looks great as presented, but time and economic constraints will certainly drive changes. For example, the turf-covered parking is pushed back to phase 2 or later, replaced by surface parking in phase 1. And that's the main challenge: Holding the Stronach Group to promises that need to remain enforceable decades down the road.
Bob Fierce October 11, 2011 at 04:48 PM
Emilie- It was my understanding that there will an initial phase of construction that will include LBNL labs and a 120' high hotel built north of Flemming Point. The hotel will be built on a street that runs east and west and connects to a rebuilt fishing pier. I think a street level parking lot will be constructed to the east of the Point. If future phase(s) warrant it, then a four story parking garage will be built up to the level of the top of the hill. The top of the garage then will be landscaped so as to lengthen the open space on top of the hill to the east. I don't believe Berkeley's Hotel is scheduled to be built in the first phase of construction. Of course everything at this point is subject to change and are merely concepts on paper.
Trevor Grayling October 11, 2011 at 06:57 PM
My understanding was that all of the Stronach Group commercial labs would be built as part of Phase One, partly in order to generate income for the City and school district. Phase Two was the rest of the LBNL buildings, plus the parking garage hidden under Fleming Point.
Amy Smolens October 11, 2011 at 07:58 PM
@ Eleanor: Yes, Paul, that's our hope. Right now the Eastern (Inboard) Bay Trail meanders along the creek and doesn't reach Gilman (the sports fields.) That is what is reflected on the current site plans. I spoke to 3 of the principals in attendance and they understand that there must be an inboard Bay Trail that goes from Buchanan to Gilman for commuters and people heading to Gilman, the sports field and further south. The Landscape Architect, Cinda Gilliland, asked me "so do you want another trail that goes in a straight line from Buchanan to Gilman in addition to the meandering trail along the creek?" Absolutely. Those will serve two completely different user groups. Albany Strollers & Rollers will formulate a letter to the developers soon detailing the cycling access requests. Eleanor (and others, of course,) we'd love to hear your input and you can reach me via our website, http://www.albanystrollroll.org/ .
Spiffynoodle October 11, 2011 at 08:51 PM
I didn't see one frackin' mention of a highway expansion to accommodate the increase in traffic this project will bring. That whole area is already suffering from stop and go traffic at almost hours of the day. It's right where the 80 meets the 580-both of which are too narrow for their own purposes. It's becoming too typical. There's project after project going up in the east bay and there seems to be little to no attempt to improve the infrastructure needed to make all this practical. Now don't get me wrong, we need the business! Keep the jobs coming to the bay area! HOWEVER, you can't support the life of a 7 foot tall man with the respiratory system of a child (weird analogy, i know). My point is that in order for bay area business to work properly, the whole system needs to grow relatively simultaneously. Whatever the involved city's approach to this fact is, for 8 years now I have seen it NOT working. It's very also inconsiderate because most of the people that use the these corridors are going to and from work in cities other than albany and they already have ridiculous commute. This will make even longer for them AND might even cause some of them to seek jobs closer to home, outside of the immediate bay area, taking their taxable income and daily consumer behavior elsewhere. Please, please, PLEASE expand the highways!!!
montymarket October 11, 2011 at 11:31 PM
June vote? A Measure C vote requires an Environmental Impact Statement, which makes a vote in June seem rather optimistic, hey? The biggest problem with an EIS is the traffic issue that Spiffynoodle raises. Traffic studies have been done for the several failed predecessor plans (Santa Fe, Catellus, etc.) and none have an effective solution for traffic. Recall that the more recent proposal being developed for the Caruso Mall suggested timed traffic lights, which is a joke for Buchanan St/Marin Ave. (It's not the lights causing the massive rush hour backups.) True, there is some talk of a rotary at Gilman, but that does not help the congestion on the freeway or city streets. If TSG tries an end run around the EIS requirement for a Measure C vote with a phony corporate signature gathering initiative, the Sierra Club through their Attorney La Force already testified at a City Council meeting that the SC will then weigh in on the matter. The Planning & Zoning Commission recently struggled with the Whole Foods senior housing proposal in the Village at 5 stories, but now we are going up to 12 stories 500 yards away on the waterfront? Yikes. As for completion of the Bay Trail, EBRPD was set to condemn a right of way through eminent domain and finally do it, but was put on hold while TSG woos LBNL. That's set to be done one way or the other. So the TSG project will be built with or without LBNL now? Then it was a Trojan Horse all along.
Alan Riffer October 12, 2011 at 02:45 AM
Wrong again Monty. A Measure C vote sponsored by the City would require an EIR before the measure could be voted upon. The Card Room case in the mid-1990s established that principle. The Waterfront Specific Plan Initiative that Bill Dann sponsored in 2006 was set to go on the ballot without an EIR until a Judge determined that the petitions had not been properly circulated. Norm La Force was on the losing side on both those issues.
Edward C. Moore October 12, 2011 at 02:10 PM
It was pointed out at the Task Force meeting last Sunday that if 15 percent of the eligible voters endorse an initiative, it could be put to a Measure C vote in June without completing the environmental review. ( I am told a draft initiative will be circulating by December and if my math is correct the application process would have to be completed by early March.) Were City Council to vote to authorize an initiative, the environmental review process must be completed first. One way to prevent a premature Measure C vote would be for city officials to make it very clear publically that an early vote is not welcome and will be opposed. Assuming a losing Measure C vote in June, there is nothing to prevent a second vote endorsed by City Council after completion of the environmental and historic-site mitigation process.
montymarket October 12, 2011 at 11:27 PM
I think Mr Moore is correct (again). Thanks, Ed. TSG will attempt to avoid addressing the environmental impacts for the Measure C vote by doing a phony corporate citizen initiative -- afterall corporations are now people! -- using paid signature gatherers. Sad, that. BTW, former DofLabor Secty Robert Reich recently had a funny take on corporations as people; to paraphrase: When he sees the States of Georgia or Texas execute a corporation, then he'll know corporations are people, too!
Trevor Grayling October 12, 2011 at 11:43 PM
Monty, if you are so good at predicting the future, please let me know next week's Lotto numbers.
montymarket October 13, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Trevor, the ouiji board says: the winning lotto numbers next week will be amongst those you do not pick! You can take that to the bank. That's why we don't buy lotto tickets. Shows sense; just as you not using your full name in that Patch is a subsidiary of AOL, with scores of other Patches around the country, not just in Albany. AOL can cross-reference with its recent acquisition Huffington Post. And there are the opportunities to link to Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, from which lists of interconnected users can be conveniently populated. There may be a potential for mis-users to get your name, your city, and sometimes even a picture, too. Okay if you're a kid perhaps, but perhaps less so if you do on-line banking.
Caryl O'Keefe October 13, 2011 at 01:18 AM
Monty, how good are you at recalling the past? As Bill Dann in 2006 you signed the Notice to Circulate the "Albany Shoreline Protection Initiative." There was no advance environmental impact report done for, nor required by, your waterfront initiative.
michael randolph October 13, 2011 at 03:03 AM
the train tracks on Gilman have killed 3 or 4 people in the last 5 years alone
michael randolph October 13, 2011 at 03:10 AM
Stronach Group wants to build a factory where the barns are in Berkeley. Breath in that nasty air on any morning as you get off the gilmon exit. The horse track is green right now! How will a hotel help that? Or a land grab by the lab. Free land in Richmond they want it there that is the best for all.
Ross Stapleton-Gray October 13, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Citation? I don't think that's correct.
Paul Kamen October 13, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Spiffynoodle: >"This will make even longer for them AND might even cause some of them to seek jobs closer to home, outside of the immediate bay area, taking their taxable income and daily consumer behavior elsewhere." Or it might motivate them to live closer to the lab, or bike to work, or take public transportation, or carpool, or maybe even walk. They might even live on-site, if the proposed housing element of the plan survives. Spiffynoodle would seem to prefer more freeway lanes.
Paul Kamen October 13, 2011 at 06:39 PM
>"Breath in that nasty air on any morning as you get off the gilmon exit." Maybe I'm weird this way, but I think I prefer the smell of hotel and restaurant to the smell of horse pee.
Karl Ruddy October 13, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Ms. O'Keefe - You are pretty well connected to many of the players on the waterfront issue. Do you think there will be a developer-financed attempt to have a Measure C vote without a full EIR? What do you think should happen if this does occur?
michael randolph October 13, 2011 at 11:43 PM
Paul I am talking right now add a new factory you'll like that too?
michael randolph October 13, 2011 at 11:48 PM
By the way all that pee and poo gets turned into mushrooms for people to eat. Pretty green, yup !
Emilie Raguso October 14, 2011 at 12:35 AM
New task force meeting coming Sunday: http://patch.com/E-hVx8
Caryl O'Keefe October 14, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Mr. Ruddy, my guess is that there could be a developer-sponsored Measure C initiative for the Racetrack replacement proposal if LBNL needs to know - sooner than an EIR could be done - the results of a Measure C vote. If so, that initiative should require a full EIR, at developer expense. There's recent precedent: the Albany waterfront initiative that circulated in 2006 did not have a prior EIR. It addressed environmental impacts by requiring a subsequent EIR (unfortunately, at taxpayer expense.) Many who claim environmentalist status supported that 2006 initiative enthusiastically. There are other "shoulds," but space is limited and I think this addresses your questions. What "shoulds" are important to you, Mr Ruddy?
Gary Erwin November 18, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Send the Race Track and the factory to Dixon. We could use them both.

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