Preliminary approval for Port of Oakland’s landmark deal for ex-Army Base

Board favors $52 million CenterPoint plan for Seaport Logistics Complex

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Port Commissioners have given initial approval to a landmark deal with CenterPoint Properties for a logistics center at the former decommissioned Army base.  The tentative agreement caps nearly 15 years of planning for the most-anticipated project.

The Board of Port Commissioners voted initial approval of the agreement last night.  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: modern distribution centers, including a railyard, close by marine terminals in the heart of the port.  Port officials said no other U.S. port has the land to duplicate Oakland’s marriage of transportation and logistics capabilities.

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

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 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, making Oakland would become one of the few ports able to perform the task within its own boundaries. 

According to port spokesmen, the deal may also generate more jobs for local workers.

Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll, added that the northern California ocean cargo gateway will “provide the most efficient and most cost-effective means of delivering goods” in the years ahead.

When the Intermodal Association of North America met in Long Beach this past summer, much of the discussion was placed on just such a scenario.

A panel discussion comprising the “Intermodal FreightCast” paid close attention to ports as logistical hubs.

 “The natural evolution of ports will mean that only those which can move toward this model will prevail,” said Alan Murphy, chief executive officer & partner of SeaIntel Maritime Analysis. “It’s a Darwinian marketplace, and always will be.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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