The Hotels Are Alameda Bound
They’re part of a push to make the Island more accessible to visitors. But not everybody is happy about one of them.
Illustrations courtesy of the developers
City officials and boosters seem to think Alameda is under-hoteled and are supporting efforts to increase the hotel count by two for Alameda, where there are seven hotels on an island that’s home to approximately 80,000 residents with a reported 36,000 annual visitors.
“The existing hotels are running pretty much at full capacity,” said Debbie Potter, the city’s Community Development director. “Tourism and hospitality was identified as one of the main sectors we are trying to build on in last year’s Economic Development Strategic Plan. It’s a growth sector that we are targeting to provide resources and support for.”
“Not a lot of people know what Alameda has to offer,” said Madlen Saddik, executive director of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.
“It doesn’t matter what the city has if people are not able to stay for a weekend because hotels are booked. We frequently hear from residents that their relatives are not able to book a place to stay when visiting. Increasing the number of hotels would enhance and encourage visitation. I think we are a hidden gem of an island with a lot of great resources. We have beaches, museums, festivals, a historic downtown, and much more. When people come to our island, they need a place to stay and that is a problem we are addressing right now.”
The two hotels include a Holiday Inn Express downtown near the Park Street Bridge and a Marriott Residence Inn in the Harbor Bay Business Park neighboring the ferry terminal and close to the airport.
The Holiday Inn Express, a four-story hotel with 96 guest rooms and 62 parking spaces at 1825 Park St. at Clement Avenue, will be within walking distance of Park Street restaurants and businesses. It’s expected to employ 12 full-time employees and generate $500,000 in tax revenue for the city. Developed by Paul Patel, it will replace a car dealership that more recently sold electric scooters.
“We are glad it is happening,” said Chris Frangoulis, owner of the Park Street Tavern. “We are looking forward to it. Having the hotel there will inevitably increase foot traffic around the whole downtown area. It will be great for all businesses around it. I went to a lot of the community planning meetings, and in general, most of the business owners are excited for it.”
The hotel planned for Harbor Bay, which has generated more pushback from community members, specifically residents of Harbor Bay, is bigger, with 172 guest rooms, five stories, a large conference room, a 7,000 square-foot restaurant with a coffee shop, and 275 parking spaces.
It will occupy a vacant 5.5-acre parcel at Harbor Bay Parkway and Bay Edge Road along the waterfront and adjacent to the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal. The hotel developer, Bob Leach, has agreed the hotel will make up to 100 parking spaces available to the ferry terminal for overflow parking. Construction is expected to begin this fall. It should generate about $1.5 million in tax revenue annually.
“Architecturally, the building will be grossly out of place,” said Alameda resident Karen Armes. “The other buildings in the business park area are two stories tall, so a lot of residents are concerned about the size and scale of the building, because it is going to be so much taller than the other buildings and block views of the Bay.”
“It seems like the footprint keeps changing,” said Brian Tremper of the Freeport Homeowners Association, explaining why his group opposed the hotel. “Some of the plans that have been presented to the board have been different than the ones they have voted on. There is just a lot of confusion. ... Our concern now is that they do it right in a clear and procedural way.”
Some residents have said they think the hotel will be out of place and take away from the scenic, natural surrounding areas. The San Francisco Bay Trail, the popular route for walkers, bikers, and runners, will run alongside the sizable hotel, too.
“It is going to dominate the landscape,” said Armes. “It is going to be right on the water in one of the city’s last areas of open space. It is a shame that residents of the city are going to lose that space.”