Port of Oakland expands into army base

July 29, 2009 12:06:23 AM PDT
The old Oakland Army Base is about to become part of the city's plan to revolutionize the Port of Oakland. The City Council voted Tuesday, to use the 135 acres near the port to ship and truck more goods.

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It will be the largest redevelopment of land Oakland will see for a long time to come, and a lot of Oakland's economic future depends on how the old army base is used.

The City Council chose to go with a local developer's plan that emphasizes expanding the Port of Oakland and its rail lines, making it the premier import/export hub into Middle America. Mayor Ron Dellums and the city staff were in favor of it.

"And by working with our partners and providing more jobs, more trade opportunities, we can be the port for Middle America, and that will be a boon for the rest of the country," Dellums' spokesperson Paul Rose said.

But Federal Oakland Associates offered a retail and entertainment plan for the 135 acres, with promises of a higher tax base and more jobs.

"The Federal plan generates far more permanent jobs for the city, close to 5,200, compared with the 3,300 under CCGANB," FOA spokesperson David Gazek said.

The Oakland Film Center, made up of 29 companies, already occupies parts of the base. It argued in favor of the retail plan.

"This is about a basic instinct for these business owners, that of survival," film center spokesperson Sean House said.

But Council Member Jean Quan pointed out ever increasing competition from foreign ports, and now Oakland has a chance to become a leader.

"We're at a period where China is going to want more of our food and buy some of our products and the amp plan is geared toward that," Quan said.

Tuesday's decision is not the end all be all; council members stressed they can still modify the plan, but the future of Oakland is headed toward a stronger port.

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