ALAMEDA – The plan to build a center providing medical and other services to people without homes has reached a milestone now that the planning board has signed off on its design.
The Alameda Wellness and Medical Respite Center will be just off Central Avenue, which was once federal property on Mackay Avenue, which leads to the Crab Cove Visitor Center.
The Alameda Points Collaborative, a non-profit organization at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, helps those who have become homeless, behind the Center of the Future. The federal government donated the 3.65-acre site to Ally in September 2018.
According to the city, the center will cost an estimated $35 million to $40 million to build, with funding coming from federal and state sources dedicated to providing medical and housing services for people without housing.
“I think it would be a great addition to Alameda,” resident Zack Bowling told the planning board on July 26. “I think it fits in well with the buildings that are fine.”
At present, two main buildings and four ancillary structures are on the vacant property. The new two-storey center will be approximately 29,810 square feet and will replace one of the main buildings. The collaborative plan is to eventually replace the second main building with senior housing and use the remaining buildings for offices.
The first story of the new center will include a primary care clinic, a resource center and a kitchen. The clinic will serve relief patients, who will live on the second story. Relief patients are those who require short-term care.
“Patients will be there to seek care for surgery or hospitalization or in some cases hospice,” Doug Biggs, the associate’s executive director, told the board.
Their stay would be temporary, Biggs said, although he did not offer a time frame for how long someone would be allowed to stay.
50 relief beds There will be up to four beds in each room, and each room will have a restroom with toilet and sink.
The center will not provide walk-in services. Patients should be referred or an appointment made.
Along with medical care, the center will assist people who are on the verge of homelessness, with the goal of helping them find stable living conditions.
The project has been controversial with some residents from the start: in April 2019 a group opposing the center gathered more than 6,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. The measure called for the zoning of the site to be changed to open space instead of its current administrative professional.
Proponents of the measure said it would clear the way for an expansion of the East Bay Regional Park District’s Crab Cove Visitor Center and nearby Robert W. But critics said the effort was less about promoting open space and did not want people who would visit the center to come to the neighborhood.
Voters rejected the measure.
The Park District also said it had no interest in the property, while the city said it did not have the estimated $11.5 million it would cost to acquire the site and convert it into a city park.
Construction of the center on the property, which once housed offices for the Department of Agriculture, the General Services Administration and the Military Sealift Command, is expected to take three to five years.
During the planning board meeting, some residents argued that the buildings should be preserved, saying they are historically significant.
“The site is historically significant as one of only two (World War II-era) Marine Officers’ Training Schools, and retains the last remaining structures from this important period in our world history,” said Carmen Diaz. Written in an email to the board. “The destruction would be a lasting and tragic loss to our local and national maritime history.”
The city’s historic advisory board approved the building’s demolition in May, a decision that the city council upheld in July.
When the center is completed, it will help senior citizens without homes and those with what Allies described as having “complicated medical and persistent mental health conditions.”
The board voted 4–3 to approve the design, which would feature an asymmetrical roof with a roof ridge that crosses the building on a diagonal, skylights and a mostly plaster exterior, as well as wood-fired in some places. The tones reflect naturalness with the siding. Of Crab Cove.
Board members who did not vote said they would like to hear more suggestions for tweaking the design, including how the building could better promote environmental sustainability. So far 17 public hearings have been held regarding the wellness center.
The decision of the Board is final, unless appealed to by the Council. Board members said they thought an appeal was likely, given the opposition the project has generated among some.