Beginning on a 14-acre parcel of filled marshland in 1916, the Bethlehem Steel-Alameda Plant comprised 90 acres of marshland by the end of WWI. The turbine Machine Shop, or Red Brick Building, completed in 1918 was the only facility at the yard to remain in operation between the world wars being put in service manufacturing structural steel for such notable projects as the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges.Environmental Concerns
The onset of WWII resulted in substantial reconstruction of the shipyard. The only structures of note that remained from WWI were the Power House and Turbine Machine Shop pictured here. A new warehouse and shops were completed in addition to the new shipways. In 1944-45 the yard employed 6,200 workers including 1,200 women.
In 1948, the yard was again abandoned. Structural steel was continued to be fabricated in the red brick building but the many of the remaining buildings were demolished and the area leased for storage. In 1969, several years after steel fabrication ceased the property was sold to Del Monte.
In March of 1973, Measure A was approved which prohibited construction of multiple dwelling units larger than a duplex. Del Monte abandoned their plans for high rise apartment buildings eventually selling the site in 1976.
In 1984, Measure C, a bond measure to subsidize infrastructure improvements to convert the Red Brick Building into affordable housing was defeated and shortly thereafter the building was demolished.
Bethlehem created a landfill at the plant but no reference was made to the landfill's location. During and after development three underground storage tanks were removed from different parking area locations in proximity to the remaining rail line. Each of the tank removals received regulatory closure from Alameda County Health Department.Current Property Use
The "northwest area" however remains under investigation because petroleum oil was found floating on the groundwater surface in exploratory trenches and borings that were performed throughout this area. The northwest area consists of a large soil pile (burying an old palm tree) and concrete foundations that are located across the street from the Power House. Whether the soil pile is the old Bethlehem Steel landfill or excess soil that was stockpiled during grading of the business park was not determined. The area remains the only portion of the Bethlehem Steel yard that was not redeveloped.
The first mixed-use development proposed in Alameda in 1979, Marina Village includes a 15-acre waterfront public park that lies behind a townhouse development; a 125,000 square foot shopping center, a 600 Berth marina with the remainder of the 206 acre development comprised of a generously landscaped business park. The development includes the two remaining buildings, the Power House and a five story warehouse (2080 Marina Village Pkwy.), that have been converted to office space.Lessons Learned - Liability for Cleanup
The redevelopment took three years to complete the planning, five years to complete the environmental review process, and another twelve years to complete construction.
The Marina Village development with its notable mixed use character (light industry, commercial, parks and housing) is very similar to the proposal for the Naval Air Station conversion. Completed at a cost of over $200 million dollars requests for public bond assistance were soundly defeated in the 1984 Measure C referendum.What to Look For
An historical marker located near the front door of the Power house building provides some facts on the ship building that occurred at the yard.
The landfill where petroleum is found several feet underground floating on the groundwater surface.
SITE STATISTICS DEVELOPER: Vintage Properties
ACREAGE: 206 acres
INVESTIGATION STATUS: Underground Storage Tank groundwater investigation ongoing.
CLEANUP STATUS: Tank removal completed. Additional cleanup of northwest area required.
COST OF ASSESSMENT AND REMEDIATION TO DATE: $100,000 Estimated
- Bethlehem Steel Company
- Del Monte
- Vintage Properties