IT'S NOT UNUSUAL FOR ARCHITECTS to tour vintage neighborhoods to get inspiration for a new project. More often than not, though, these hunting expeditions take place many miles—even time zones—away from where the proposed development is poised to take shape.
That's definitely not the case with Bayport Alameda, an 87-acre project on the site of a former naval base in Alameda, Calif., an island adjacent to Oakland and just across the bay from San Francisco. The architects designing the 32 different elevations at this new community were able to plumb a rich and vibrant design vocabulary from the heart of Alameda, a former resort area that's known for its Victorianera architecture. In fact, Alameda boasts more than 10,000 buildings that were constructed before 1930.
“The architects came up from Southern California and took a tour through Alameda,” says Fran Leach, Bayport Alameda's marketing director. “There's a great eclectic set of architecture in Alameda, with everything from Victorian to Tudor to Spanish Colonial to Spanish Revival, so they loved that. They pulled as many details as possible in creating the houses for our project.”
Design Direction Bayport Alameda is the first project to be built on the 2,000-acre Alameda Naval Air Station, which was decommissioned in 1997. In 2000, the city sold the land to San Francisco–based Catellus Development Corp., which teamed up with Warmington Homes California (Warmington's development arm) of Costa Mesa, Calif., to carry out the residential end of its plans. The Warmington Group of Northern California (the building arm of the company), headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., is building 485 homes on a portion of the former naval facility, including 48 units at below–market-rate prices for those who qualify as moderate-income households. At build-out, projected for 2008, Bayport Alameda will also include an 11-acre central neighborhood park, four half-acre mini parks, bike lanes, walking paths, and a K-8 school.
“As we would do with any of our master plans, we made a fairly short list of four or five builders that we thought would do a good job with the product and that we thought the city would appreciate,” says Tom Marshall, senior vice president of the Catellus Residential Group (Catellus Development's residential arm), which acted as the master developer on the residential end of the project. “Warmington distinguished itself with the work they put into the initial stage. They really rolled up their sleeves and got into the product, which made it a pretty easy decision. This is a group of folks who do what they say they're going to do and don't cause a lot of fuss.”
Warmington can't have been unhappy with the architects that Catellus chose to execute that product. It's a group that's known for great design and good follow-through. The end result was four collections of two-story, neo-traditional architectural styles (Craftsman/Bungalow, American Traditional, Monterey, Cottage, and Spanish Colonial, from 2,035 to 3,730 square feet), with each collection being designed by a different firm. Three lot sizes are available—3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 square feet—and all the homes are alley-loaded. The single-family, detached homes currently range in price from $730,000 to $990,000. The first 12 of 48 homes targeted for moderate-income households are expected to be finished early this year and will go for $273,000 each.
Robert Hidey Architects based in Irvine, Calif., executed The Pointe Collection, the largest homes, with three floor plans that all feature courtyards, up to four bedrooms, plus loft and retreat options. William Hezmalhalch Architects of Santa Ana, Calif., came up with The Cove, four home designs that encourage easy living—both indoors and out. HOVE Design Alliance in Newport Beach, Calif., designed The Harbor Collection, the smallest homes at Bayport but also some of the most popular. Buyers can choose from three different floor plans and six elevations, all with a minimum of three bedrooms. The Landing, Bayport's collection of 48 market-rate “duets,” or duplexes, was designed by RNM Architects in Newport Beach and will be available through a qualification process administered by the Alameda Development Corp. Because they are located on prime corner lots, the attached houses look very much like single-family homes, with separate entrances on separate streets.
“Given the tight quarters we were dealing with, it was important to have separate architects doing each product line,” says Marshall. “Of course, that creates quite a challenge for the builder.”