• Powell Slaughter

Oakland Port gets approval for logistics center

Long-planned $52 million development to occupy former Army base

OAKLAND, Calif. – In major news for West Coast port infrastructure development, the Port of Oakland has received the first go-ahead for development of the $52 million Seaport Logistics Complex on a former Army base here.

Port Commissioners have given initial approval to a landmark deal with CenterPoint Properties for the facility in a tentative agreement caps nearly 15 years of planning. Port officials said that the agreement includes unprecedented commitments to hire local workers.

“The future is at hand,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle.  “We’ve got a great development partner, a great plan for the community and a new direction that will set us apart from competitors once the deal is fully approved.”

The Board of Port Commissioners voted initial approval of the agreement last Thursday night, and it comes up for final vote Nov. 30. If commissioners say yes a second time, the deal becomes official in January.

The agreement calls for industrial real estate giant CenterPoint Properties to develop a $52 million logistics facility on Port property that once served as an Army supply depot. Construction would culminate 20 months of negotiations between CenterPoint, the Port, and Revive Oakland and Oakland Works which are coalitions of more than 30 organizations including labor, community and faith partners.

The project would be the first phase of a planned Seaport Logistics Complex that could eventually encompass nearly 180 acres. The vision for the complex includes modern distribution centers, with a railyard, close by marine terminals in the heart of the Port.

Work on CenterPoint’s 440,000-square-foot building could begin as early as the first quarter of 2018. Port officials said the building would be the largest distribution facility at any U.S. West Coast Port.

“We’re pleased to take part in an important growth project for California’s economy,” said CenterPoint Chief Development Officer Michael Murphy. “The Port of Oakland has a thoughtful vision for the future and with this agreement we can help them bring it to life and provide jobs that give people dignity and allow them to stay in Oakland.”

Central to the deal has been the Revive Oakland and Oakland Work Coalition’s collaboration with the Port of Oakland and CenterPoint to develop a groundbreaking jobs policy. The policy is envisioned as an economic driver and job generator.

Stipulations for the project include preferences for hiring local residents, particularly those in neighborhoods nearest the Port; special consideration for disadvantaged residents including the chronically unemployed, single parents, formerly incarcerated and military veterans; and funding for a local, community-based workforce development partner, the West Oakland Job Resource Center, to train work force candidates and provide the opportunity to refer job applicants.

The Port estimated that the facility could create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs in Oakland.

“As the Port of Oakland grows, we also ensure that our neighboring communities benefit from our success,” said Port Social Responsibility Director Amy Tharpe.  “Giving local residents from all backgrounds access to good, family-sustaining jobs is central to this project.”

The Army decommissioned its Oakland base in the late 1990s. Since then, planners have envisioned a logistics campus that could further strengthen Oakland’s role as a global trade gateway. The Port received about 187 acres of the property between 2003 and 2007. The city of Oakland received a similar parcel.

The Seaport Logistics Complex will be located off Maritime Street near Oakland’s Outer Harbor.  The Port initiated development there last year with the opening of a $100 million railyard.

Under terms of its deal with the Port, CenterPoint Properties would construct and manage the first building at the Complex. Tenants would likely include companies requiring transloading – the process of transferring cargo between trucks, trains and vessels for shipment. Transloading is common near West Coast ports, Port officials said, but Oakland would become one of the few ports able to perform the task within its boundaries.

“We’ll provide the most efficient and most cost-effective means of delivering cargo,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “That will be a major driver of our growth in the years ahead.”

Powell SlaughterPowell Slaughter | Senior Editor

I'm Powell Slaughter, senior editor at Furniture/Today. I returned to the publication in January 2015 after nine years of writing about furniture retail strategies and best practices at a monthly magazine focusing on home furnishings retail operations. Prior to that, I spent 10 years with F/T covering wood furniture, the last five of those as case goods editor. While I cover occasional, home entertainment and home office here, a major responsibility is expanding our attention to the logistics side of the industry. I hope my articles will encourage a dialogue with retailers, vendors, third-party logistics specialists and carriers. I’d love to hear your ideas, concerns and suggestions for smoother flow of material and goods.

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