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Seaport Logistics Complex History and Timeline

Port of Oakland history spans a period of 165 years beginning with the San Francisco Bay becoming a working harbor in the mid-1800s. The Port’s past encompasses the Gold Rush, Civil War, Industrial Revolution, two World Wars, and the United States coming of age as a global power.

Oakland was a small settlement on the San Francisco Bay’s east shoreline during the gold rush days. Schooners sailed in and out of Oakland’s harbor moving supplies and local goods. In 1869 Oakland became the terminus for the transcontinental railroad establishing it as California’s most important rail center.

WWI spurred huge growth in shipyards. In 1918, the Union Construction Company built a shipyard on a large parcel of land at the end of 14th Street, which eventually became part of the Oakland Army Base.

WWII thrust the nation into global conflict following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Outer Harbor Terminal became the “Oakland Sub-Port of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation,” where tens-of-thousands worked in the wartime industry. In January 1944, the Oakland wharves and warehouses officially became the “Oakland Army Base”.

At the end of the WWII in 1945, the Base served as a reception center for service personnel returning from the Pacific. It continued to function throughout the Cold War.

In the late 1960s, Oakland became the first major port on the West Coast to build terminals for the then-revolutionary container ships. The Base was also home to the largest military port complex in the world during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975.

The Oakland Army Base closed in the late 1990s through the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The property was transferred to the Oakland Army Base Reuse Authority, a joint powers agency.

Between 2003 and 2007, the Port acquired approximately 241 acres of the Base. The City of Oakland (City) acquired a nearly equal share. Since closure, the Port and City have been planning the development and reuse of the Base. The Port refers to its portion of the property and planned development as the Seaport Logistics Complex. The Port and City of Oakland took ownership of the Base in 2006 and broke ground on their respective land parcels to strengthen Oakland’s position as an international gateway.

To protect the environment and local communities while improving seaport facilities and growing its maritime business, the Port implemented several programs between 2002 and 2017. The Environmental Impact Report was completed and approved in 2002 for the development of the Base, which included California Environmental Quality Act requirements. This allowed for the required cleanup of the site between 2003 and 2013 and the implementation of mitigation projects since 2002 that cleared the way for improvements.

Port Commissioners adopted the Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan in 2009, part of development mitigation. This resulted in reducing diesel emissions from trucks serving the Port by 98 percent between 2005 and 2015. In that same timeframe, ship diesel emissions dropped 75 percent. The work continues to reduce these emissions.

In 2009, the Port published a Request for Qualifications for the development of logistics facilities at the Seaport Logistics Complex. Over the subsequent years, the Port negotiated with various companies but was unable to reach a suitable agreement.

In 2013, the Port began construction of the Outer Harbor Intermodal Terminal Phase I, which comprises storage and support railyards on approximately 24 acres of the Seaport Logistics Complex. The Port substantially completed this development in late 2016.

The Port and Community worked together to create local jobs through the initial development of the Seaport Logistics Complex. In 2015, 61 percent of the project workforce were local hires. Thirty-three percent of the 460 workers lived in the Port’s Local Impact Areas: Oakland, San Leandro, Alameda and Emeryville. Another 28 percent were from the Local Business Areas: Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Talks began between the Port and industrial real estate developer CenterPoint Properties in fall 2015 to develop a portion of the Port’s OAB property with a major commitment to hire local workers.

The planned construction is part of the Port’s Seaport Logistics Complex envisioned as a state-of-the-art cargo logistics hub with transload, cross-docking, and distribution facilities where importers can quickly transfer containerized cargo from ships to trains. This will be adjacent to the $100 million rail yard that the Port completed in 2016.

Port Commissioners approved a landmark agreement with CenterPoint in 2017 for the first phase of the Seaport Logistics Complex construction project. Full development of the Base will occur over several years.

Historical Timeline

1918 – The Union Construction Company built a shipyard on a large parcel of land at the end of 14th Street

1941 – After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Port’s Outer Harbor Terminal was transformed into the “Oakland Sub-Port of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation,” where thousands worked in the wartime industry

1944 – Oakland Sub-Port of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation officially becomes “Oakland Army Base,” considered the largest military port in the world

1945 – World War II ends

1975 – Vietnam War ends and operations at the Oakland Army Base slows

1999 – Oakland Army Base is closed and the land is transferred to the Oakland Base Reuse Authority, a joint powers agency that will decide how to best use the land for economic development and community preference

2006 – Ownership of the former Army Base site is transferred to the City of Oakland and the Port of Oakland

2013 – The Port and the City break ground on their respective parcels of the former Army Base (Port’s parcel is 241 acres)

2015 – Port achieves 61 percent local hiring targets and 30 percent are Oakland residents

2016 – Port welcomed its first train to use a $100 million near-dock rail facility at the former Army Base as part of a strategy to enhance the Port’s intermodal capabilities

2017 – Port completes negotiation for the development of the Golden Gate Landing at the former Army Base with CenterPoint Properties

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