Signature floats plan to trade park for homes in Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin

Signature Development Group may want to replace a public park approved for the west side of Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin with homes.

The locally based developer filed preliminary plans to potentially replace a 4-acre park and parking lot with an undisclosed number of homes, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

The park, west of Lake Merritt Channel just south of the Embarcadero, is envisioned as part of a “necklace of waterfront parks” across the $2 billion Brooklyn Basin development.

In 2006, Signature and China-based Zarsion Holdings were approved to build 3,100 homes, 200,000 square feet of offices, plus shops, restaurants, a new marina and nearly 30 acres of open space on the 64-acre promontory.

Last spring, the developers won approval from the City of Oakland to ditch plans for the marina in favor of 600 apartments, bringing the total to 3,700 homes, according to The Oaklandside. Oakland officials supported the swap if the builders agreed to spend $9 million on affordable housing in nearby neighborhoods.

Signature had originally planned 300 homes at Brooklyn Basin’s western edge, but revised its plans and redistributed the units across the rest of the project to add the park and parking.

The developer may now want to exchange the green space back for homes.

Signature submitted a zoning worksheet, or pre-application, suggesting it could seek to modify existing approvals for Brooklyn Basin’s western park to include homes.

Mike Ghielmetti, founder of the firm, told the Business Journal that the firm doesn’t seek to add more homes to Brooklyn Basin, but declined to disclose further details. He said the zoning worksheet doesn’t include a definitive plan for changes to the project, but aims to launch a dialogue with Oakland staff.

The approved park on Parcel N will be handed over to the City of Oakland after an environmental cleanup.

The city wasn’t aware of Signature’s application, an Oakland spokesperson told the Business Times in an email. He or she didn’t respond to a follow-up email with the contents of the zoning worksheet.

At the end of last year, Ghielmetti announced that future construction at Brooklyn Basin was on hold, pending changes to the economy and the supply of apartments in Oakland.

— Dana Bartholomew

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