East Bay Express: Russo's Next Big Challenge, June 8, 2011


The most urgent of the city's issues, Russo said, is the development of Alameda Point, an effort he plans to open with a vigorous campaign to attract a planned second campus for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His other plans for the former Naval Air Station also may surprise both his friends and critics. Some of his supporters believe he will push for high-density housing, while foes have intimated that his hiring may signal the return of former Alameda Point developer SunCal. But Russo, who's planning fall talks with the Navy, which still owns the land, said he thinks that building housing may be too costly for Alameda, and that he may not be interested in bringing in a master developer at all, let alone SunCal, which burned bridges with councilmembers and residents. "It may be that residential [development] should not be the primary focus of development on the Point," he said. "It doesn't make a lot of sense to me for Alamedans to pay for spanking new infrastructure at Alameda Point at the expense of allowing existing infrastructure in a very nice town to go down the tubes. We don't need growth for growth's sake at Alameda Point."

He proposed a "rally of singles" approach to developing the Point, instead of the "grand slam" master developer approach that Alameda has attempted twice, without success.