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Oakland Army Base Redevelopment to Relocate Dozens of Businesses

Tristan Nitot/Flickr

The Oakland Army Base is well positioned for many businesses with good access to downtown Oakland and San Francisco as well as to the Oakland port.

The Oakland Film Center isn't the only business that will soon be kicked off the old Army Base.

Seven other major companies, with dozens of small tenants and subcontractors, also will be given the heave ho by the end of May. Even the few businesses that may have a chance to stay on the base once development is complete will be hugely impacted by the redevelopment process for the site.

Bill Aboudi, president of the Oakland Maritime Support Services said that he's hopeful his business can come back to the base once infrastructure redevelopment is completed. He's in negotiations with the city to find a spot.

"If you look around, this is its own little city," he said. "We have about 10,000 people that make their money working out of this area here."

Aboudi relocated his Oakland business to the old army base in 2003.

"Most people don't know we exist. I've had Council people come through and not even know where the Army Base is," he said. "I've had (state) Assemblymembers come through and are astounded at everything we do. So when Council is making changes, to them we're just drawings on a map."

City officials said that lease termination was part of the plan all along. In October, Oakland sent out a 90-day notice to all of the businesses located on the site. It's expected that most will appeal the process bringing their days on the Army Base closed by the end of May, said Real Estate Agent John Monetta. In addition, Monetta said that the city doesn't want to lose the $242 million if they do not begin redevelopment by December 2013.

Monetta said while the city is trying to help some businesses relocate, the bottom line is that redevelopment will mean that the vast majority of companies have to find new homes. He said it will take a couple of years to complete infrastructure redevelopment.

"I understand (base businesses) are upset, but the developer is really looking at bringing in large warehouse users like Amazon and Starbucks,” he said.

The proposed development - Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center - is a project of national seeking to transform the former Oakland Army Base into a intermodal trade and logistics center. Oakland-based California Capital Investment Group, headed by Phil Tagami is leading the development process.

Calls to Tagami for this story were not returned.

At the center of the termination storm is the Oakland Film Center, a thriving hub for a diverse array of film production companies.

"I don't want to relocate, I don't want to move to the city," Tim Ranahan said. "And the city of San Francisco totally wants us there. I mean they are a super film-friendly city. It's kind of sad the Oakland isn't anymore; without (a) film office."

Many of those businesses have said that Tagami and Oakland officials have gone back on their word to negotiate with some businesses about staying on site.

Monetta said that as the process for the old base has evolved, developers have decided that logistics and large warehouses made the most sense for the site.

Most of the businesses and their tenants are expected to survive in some fashion or another and settled somewhere in the Bay Area. However, it's unclear how many will stay in Oakland.

"The hard thing is trying to find a place that would take all of us," Ranahan said. "So people are looking everywhere, from Richmond (all) the way to San Francisco."

Many tenants on the army base site seem resigned to the displacement.

"Unless something really great comes along in Oakland, it looks like we will be broken up," Ranahan said, although he most likely will stay in Oakland or move to Emeryville.

The next discussion of this item will be at the Council's community economic development subcommittee on Dec. 11.


Source: Oakland Local []

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