Odd terminology Fremont’s using there. It’s not a plan or even a concept, it’s a “conceptual approach.” By being purposely vague, there’s a lot of room for modification, whether it’s brought on by the City Council and Mayor, Alameda County (if it chooses to be involved), or the citizens of Fremont. If you remember from when we first explored the Warm Springs site, most of the land on which a ballpark could be placed is currently undeveloped. NUMMI’s aversion to a ballpark was due to a fear of interruption to its operations, which are supposed to be 24/7. NUMMI was able to control costs by not having a large onsite parts operation, choosing instead to have suppliers ship parts rail and truck in a just-in-time manner so that parts arrived just prior to assembly. In choosing to close NUMMI, Toyota felt that suppliers were often located too far from plant, making transportaion costs higher than they are for other plants. The closure of NUMMI could run in a few directions. Fremont could take no action in the near future and choose not to create a redevelopment plan, in hopes of Toyota reopening the plant at some point or selling to some other interest who might see the plant as a major asset for its own manufacturing operations. That’s not likely as Toyota neither wants to reopen the plant given the aforementioned rationale nor keep it indefinitely and pay nearly $2 million in property tax on dead weight land. Instead, what will probably happen is that Fremont will work with Toyota on a redevelopment plan that could allow for construction on the undeveloped sections while maintaining the plant for manufacturing from other industries. As the parties start doing soil samples on and near the plant, they’ll probably find enough contamination accumulated over several decades to create a brownfield situation. In that case, Toyota will be responsible for the cleanup, though the federal government would be expected to step in and contribute something towards the effort as well. Assuming that the mess isn’t too bad at the ballpark site, it could be primed and ready-to-go in a fairly short period. According to City Manager Fred Diaz, who spearheaded the renewal of the ballpark plan, redevelopment is expected to happen at NUMMI whether or not a ballpark is built. The City has identified $62 million of onsite infrastructure spending and $15 million of offsite infrastructure spending that would have to be done to make the conceptual approach complete.
- Northwest Parking (next to ballpark) – $16.883,686
- Rebuilt South Parking (NUMMI vehicles lot) – $21,118,644
- Pedestrian Promenade (links BART to ballpark) – $12,741,727
- Frontage and Landscaping (area is barren right now) – $6,950,409
- Site Utilities Infrastructure (power, sewer) – $4,459,185
- Fremont/Grimmer intersection expansion – $1,035,000
- Auto Mall/Grimmer intersection expansion – $350,000
- Mission/Warm Springs intersection expansion – $350,000
- Auto Mall/Osgood intersection expansion – $3,450,000
- Warm Springs Rd/Ct signaling – $380,000
- Ramp widenings from I-880 & I-680 – $985,000
- New pedestrian bridge from Warm Springs BART station over tracks – $8.47 million
In addition, the City identified other pieces of infrastructure that have been built the last several years that can contribute to the feasibility of a ballpark at NUMMI. The ballpark, if/when completed, would look something like this:
The distance along the new pedestrian promenade would be around 1/4 mile. The City expects BART parking on the other side of the station to be used for the ballpark, so the station and bridge would be constructed in a manner that allows for walking through the station without having to enter a paid area. The vision doesn’t end there. The drawing above is considered Phase 1A. Phase 1B would involve the construction “of approximately 920,000 square feet of land and building area devoted to office, retail, and restaurant development along the promenade.” Should that come to fruition, the area would look more like this:
Phase 1B is essentially a reshaping of the ballpark village concept. Similar design cues exist, especially that public square beyond centerfield. The Pacific Commons setup was more of a quadrant extending from the ballpark.
Once again, having the A’s in Fremont will come down to an age-old debate among residents over their vision of the city. Is it a sleepy albeit large bedroom community cobbled together from five towns decades ago, or a city that aspires to having more a cosmopolitan feel? Over at the Tri City Beat, a comment by former mayor and ballpark opponent Gus Morrison sums up one side of the debate:
We don’t have much of a night life, but every time, every time, someone brings some fancy idea for a entertainment venue of some kind, it turns into a disaster, sooner or later. People open nice restaurants and we don’t go to them, and they close. We are what we are – a city built for families. We ought to be proud of that. Cities around this country, bigger and smaller than us, envy us. If we are going to change that, it ought to happen only after a lot of public input. Not 72 hours.
Something tells me this struggle will go on well after my generation is too old to care anymore.