What Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Rough Proposal Means for Taxpayers


The Oakland A’s released a conditions sheet on April 23 that details their financial plans to develop a new baseball stadium and mixed-use development along the city’s waterfront. But city hall officials were surprised by the long-awaited details.

Dave Kaval, the president of As, said his team of lawyers and consultants met with the city three times a week for almost eight months to develop their proposal and added that city officials “were fully aware of all the terms and conditions in force. the agreement. “

Now he wants city council comments and is pushing for a council vote by July.

“We had come to the point where we were really convinced that this document had to be something where we got the perspective and input from city council,” he said. “We thought the best way to do it was to make it public.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has supported the project, told The Chronicle that she is committed to preparing the condition sheet for a city council vote by July. But, she said, in the coming weeks, the city will be in “continuous dialogue” with the As to make sure it’s a good deal for the city’s residents.

“It’s a very expensive and complicated project,” she said. “Not only is there an approximate stage … but there are a lot of improvements to our transportation system and the community benefits the Oaklanders deserve as part of this project. This is the part that we are currently reviewing. “

Opponents say the fine print makes it clear that the project is not a good deal for the city’s taxpayers.

How much does the new approximation and adjacent development cost, and why is it so expensive?

A’s total budget of $ 12 billion for the project would make it one of the costliest developments in the entire country. The total cost of the project would be more than three times the estimated value of the Bay Area’s most valuable building, Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. A challenge for A’s project is the Bay Area’s construction costs, which are among the highest in the world. A new apartment in the Bay Area can cost over $ 500,000 to build.

The $ 12 billion will fund an approximate stadium with a capacity of 35,000 participants, 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet for commercial use, up to 270,000 square feet for retail, a center performance interior accommodating up to 3,500 people, 400 hotel rooms and up to 18 acres of open space accessible to the public.

The development will cover 55 acres of land in and around the Howard Terminal at Jack London Square. The land closest to the waterfront and the baseball stadium will be leased while the land used for condo construction and commercial real estate will be purchased, Kaval said.

Who will pay for it?

The approximate price is expected to cost over $ 1 billion. The costs of the on-site project will be paid through private funding and income generated by the project.

The condition sheet outlines a plan for the city to develop two infrastructure finance districts: the Howard Terminal Infrastructure Financing District and Jack London Infrastructure Financing District.

Tax revenues generated by these districts will be used to reimburse As’s for all infrastructure costs.

The conditions sheet estimates that $ 855 million in tax revenue will be used to fund onsite and offsite infrastructure upgrades.

Schaaf said the project needed some improvements, but there were other improvements – pedestrian safety, traffic flow – that would benefit the Jack London neighborhood whether or not there was a approximate stage.

The city is “critically examining” claims that the growth in tax revenue is sufficient to fully fund these investments, said Justin Berton, a spokesperson for the mayor.

“The commitments demanded by the A’s would predetermine the use of a substantial part of the tax revenues of this part of the city for the years to come,” he said. “We will also explore if there are other financing tools that could preserve the viability of the project while reducing the level of commitment” of future taxes that would be promised under the infrastructure districts.

What is an infrastructure finance district?

Infrastructure finance districts are created to finance public infrastructure projects and are commonly used for large development projects. The special district diverts some property tax revenue to pay for infrastructure upgrades and other costs. San Francisco, for example, has nine major infrastructure finance districts to fund upgrades in areas of the city, including Transbay and Mission Rock.

How much will Oakland get in community benefits and affordable housing?

Oakland will get $ 450 million in community benefits through tax revenues from the two infrastructure funding districts. The maximum duration of infrastructure financing districts is 45 years. Kaval said the $ 450 million in community benefits could return to the city within 15 to 20 years.

The A’s estimate the city will get $ 1.4 billion from the Jack London Financing District. Their list of conditions states that $ 360 million should be used to fund off-site infrastructure, $ 280 million should be spent on community benefits such as affordable housing and off-site infrastructure, and $ 760 million should go in city coffers.

The A’s estimate that the Howard Terminal Financing District will generate $ 860 million – of which $ 495 million will be used to fund all on-site infrastructure costs, including environmental remediation, seismic upgrades, and land improvements. sea ​​level rise. The list of conditions states that $ 170 million of this revenue should be used for community benefits such as affordable housing and $ 195 million to be paid into city coffers.

How long will it take to build?

The first phase of the project includes the approximate stadium, 540 residential units, 250,000 square feet of commercial office space, 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 400 rooms for hotels, approximately 12.3 acres of open space and 4,818 parking spaces. The first phase is expected to take two years to build once construction begins, according to the draft environmental impact report, but it is not known when construction will begin.

The A’s say nothing else can be built until the stadium is finished. The overall project could take at least eight years to build and probably much longer.

What are the environmental concerns?

In 2019, The Chronicle reviewed regulatory documents that showed the site’s soil and groundwater contained dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals that would need to be corrected before the baseball stadium could be built on the Howard Terminal site.

Environmental groups have submitted letters to the city saying the draft environmental impact report does not disclose or alleviate environmental concerns about air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, transportation , hazardous materials, water quality and other issues.

“Simply put, the project is proposed for a dangerous toxic site, endangered by rising sea levels, with an inadequate remediation plan,” says a letter written by the Baykeeper of San Francisco.

San Francisco Baykeeper criticized the project’s plan to raise the site and its plans to manage stormwater runoff away from the site.

What infrastructure upgrades need to be made?

The draft environmental impact report indicates that the baseball stadium would be surrounded by pedestrian streets with limited vehicle access. Public transportation options include BART, AC Transit, ferry service and bus shuttles, and a transportation hub that would have elevated pedestrian and bicycle crossings to the baseball stadium.

Infrastructure upgrades include pedestrian separation, new bike lanes, sidewalk improvements and more.

Melvin Mackay, the president of ILWU Local 10, which represents 1,400 workers in the longshoreman division, said the rough stage and overall development would create a “deadlock” at the port. He fears that port workers will lose their jobs if development is built.

“We are the third largest port in the country,” he said. “Where are we going to get our goods from when the waterfront goes up?”

Roland Li, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, contributed to this report.

Sarah Ravani is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SarRavani


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