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Liquefaction concerns delay plans for north Mare Island development
DEVELOPMENT

Liquefaction concerns delay plans for north Mare Island development

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Phinney and warehouse

Dave Phinney in this 2019 photo at Mare Island. He and his partners are working to redevelop areas of Mare Island. 

The redevelopment of Mare Island Naval Shipyard remains a work in progress, nearly a quarter-century since the U.S. government shut down the military facility.

Several early efforts at private redevelopment of the island were slow to take off. Most recently, the city learned that soil in the north part of the island is “waterlogged” and could liquefy in an earthquake, Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said in an interview last week.

“In its present condition, it is not suitable for development just yet,” he said of the island’s north part.

“The Navy had to make sure the area was free of toxins, and they did that, and there are only a couple of pockets that still need remediation,” Sampayan said.

To deal with the liquefaction threat, dry dirt will have to be imported to raise the area by six to eight feet, he said. “It will take several years to complete. It’s also a very costly project — likely around $25 million to $30 million,” paid by the developer, he said

There has been discussion of demolishing some of the remaining buildings in that part of the island, with some properties being used temporarily by the Chrysler Company as storage for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles, Sampayan said.

The city is working with Nimitz Group SLC, now the primary owner of the island, which replaced Lennar Mare Island. Lennar brought in Touro University and built several hundred housing units before its redevelopment momentum bogged down.

The new group is working to turn the historic area near the ferry terminal into a commercial hub, while also waiting for northern parts of the island to become available.

Nimitz has hired Southern Lands Company as its master developer, a move that should spur redevelopment, the mayor said.

SLC has opened a regional office on Mare Island and is assembling a redevelopment team, the mayor said. SLC’s president of West Coast operations, Thomas D’Alesandro, “specializes in the visioning, planning, development, and marketing of large-scale master-planned communities in urban and suburban areas,” he said.

Since arriving in April, D’Alensandro has been involved in an in-depth analysis of the “what and how” Mare Island requires to be successful, he said.

“D’Alesandro will report back to the city and our community once the analysis is complete,” Sampayan said. “We expect that much of his research on attracting new businesses to Mare Island will be relevant and valuable to all of Vallejo.”

One of the Nimitz Group’s partners is Dave Phinney, a former Napa wine and spirits maker who has opened the Savage & Cooke distillery on Mare Island.

“Dave is one of three partners with the Nimitz Group and is the visionary for the group,” Sampayan said. “He and his partners, Sebastian Lane, and Gaylon Lawrence, Jr., are active in the day-to-day operations.”

“Dave’s vast network of connections has brought Mare Island to the attention of several exciting prospective tenants,” the mayor said.

Southern Land is in the process of researching and negotiating with retail, lodging, housing, and recreational ventures planned to be strategically placed on the Island, Sampayan said, with details to be announced in coming months.

“Please remember that these types of projects do not happen overnight,” Sampayan said. “Each project must be carefully analyzed for its potential not only for the company but, more importantly, for the Vallejo community. I am hopeful that some of them will come to fruition very soon, but we have to be patient.

Because of recent rumors that Mare Island redevelopment was failing, Sampayan said the private developers are planning to step up communication with residents.

SLC will build an interactive webpage for the community that will highlight the latest news about what is being planned for Mare Island, he said. It will include a calendar showing records and documents associated with past events and a schedule of upcoming events, along with previews of individual projects as they advance in planning and design.

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