Wall Street Journal: Alameda Maneuvers for Coveted Lab, July 21, 2011


ALAMEDA—When the Naval Air Station closed here in 1997, the city predicted the sprawling waterfront base would become a budding community, filled with housing, businesses and open space. Fourteen years and a handful of developers later, some of the most prime real estate in the Bay Area remains mostly undeveloped and underused.

The decrepit, 70-year-old former air base that juts into San Francisco Bay presents challenges to potential developers, said John Russo, Alameda's new city manager. Among them: a remote location, crumbling sewage lines and other deficient infrastructure, and enough pollution for the Environmental Protection Agency to label the base a Superfund cleanup site.

Twice, Alameda worked closely with outside developers to craft plans aimed at rebuilding the entire 918 acres in one go. Each time, the plans faltered.

This time, a new city staff is working on a plan, and at least one big-name potential tenant has shown interest. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a federally funded lab run by the University of California, is searching for a site to build a second campus. It has named Alameda Point, as the former air base is now dubbed, one of six finalists.