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 Brownfields: Post-Industrial Alameda Tour


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Tour Stop 10
Gateway Alameda
2700 Main Street


Gateway Alameda
2700 Main Street

Historical Property Use

This site was first occupied by the South Pacific Coast Railroad which crossed it in 1884. Southern Pacific purchased the railroad in 1887 and built a rail car shop to enable conversion of the red line commuter rail cars from steam to electric power during 1910-11. The electric substation at the site was one of four in the train system. The shop with its saw-tooth skylight roof, along with the office building, the boiler house and one other building, which may have been moved, still remain.

In 1941, commuter rail service was stopped. The site was sold to United Engineering Company who performed tug boat construction and ship repair for the US Navy until 1945. During this period many of the buildings at the site were demolished or altered and 27 structures which remain today were constructed at the site.

Todd Shipyard Corp., one of the country's leading ship repair companies, began operations at the site in 1947 and by 1952 it was the last active ship repair yard left in Alameda. Todd performed ship repairs and conversions using four outfitting piers, as well as two giant dry docks capable of handling ships up to 16,500 tons each. Active throughout the Vietnam War, with up to 2,500 workers, by 1975 the work force had been reduced to 300. Todd sold the shipyard to developer John Beery shortly after it closed in 1981.

Environmental Concerns

Four underground storage tanks were removed from the site in 1994 and the investigation and cleanup of contamination resulting from these tanks is ongoing. In addition, remediation of a PCB transformer oil spill has been performed.

In addition to petroleum fuel products, and spills of PCB transformer oils used in the electrical equipment, numerous additional environmental concerns related to historical uses of the site remain unaddressed. Soil and groundwater investigations at sites with similar industrial histories have identified serious contamination problems.

The range of maintenance activities, both during rail car and ship repair work, could have produced problems ranging from the deposition on soils of lead spray paint or paint chips from sand blasting, the presence of asbestos used in insulation and building materials, and other metals and acids commonly found in metal plating shops.

Current Property Use

The most recent renovations at the site included the construction of the Alameda-Oakland ferry parking facility by the city in 1993 and the renovation of a portion of the large shop building by the Rosenblum Winery in 1995.

The site remains an active shipyard with about 30 businesses in ship repair and associated maritime industries concentrated along the wharf and waterfront, as well as a winery and architect's office.

Three existing long piers will require shortening to accommodate a turning basin for ships docking at the Port of Oakland Inner Harbor.

Lessons Learned - Initiating Assessments

Though the potential exists for environmental contamination at this site, these problems remain largely unaddressed. The site was purchased prior to 1986 when financial institutions required environmental assessments before approving a loan, and the remainder of the facility was leased from the City rather than purchased. Environmental investigations will occur as needed to support new developments, such as the Port of Oakland turning basin.

Site Statistics


ACREAGE: 30-40 acres

INVESTIGATION STATUS: Underground Storage Tank groundwater investigation ongoing

CLEANUP STATUS: Tank removal, floating petroleum on groundwater surface



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August 24, 1999