Last Saturday, the Point Molate Community Visioning Workshop mimicked a voyage to an oasis hidden in an urban landscape. Point Molate is a grand and remote natural shoreline in Richmond. The location coexists within diverse worlds: traffic congestion, scenic vistas, Chevron oil refinery, osprey nests, former naval fuel depot, rare eelgrasses, Winehaven, Chinese Shrimp Camps, and Native American histories.
From the Richmond Point Molate website: “Point Molate is a 270 acre site located on the San Francisco Bay, North of the Richmond – San Rafael bridge, in the City of Richmond, CA. It has long been recognized for its beach and beautiful Bay views, unique plants and wildlife, and historic buildings. It was formerly a navy fuel depot and a winery distribution center.”
Development at Point Molate is a complicated process spanning decades from the United States Navy transfer of land to the city of Richmond, the Point Molate Reuse Plan, a Casino Project, and extensive litigation resulting in a judgment. From the City of Richmond website: “The Judgment paves the way for a meaningful public land use planning process for Point Molate, which previously had been initiated by the Richmond City Council. This process will begin with at least three public workshops that will be scheduled during the next several months. This public process will lead to the City selecting a new qualified master developer to manage the development of Point Molate…”
As a Richmond resident, my introduction to the area is unfortunately new. The Point Molate Community Visioning Workshop was the beginning of gathering diverse opinions and information. However, understanding Point Molate’s nuances in a condensed 4-hours (tour, lunch, and discussion) exposed the need for additional investigation.
What is the future of Point Molate?
First stop is the City of Richmond’s Reuse Plan. The website states: “The Reuse Plan contemplates a development scenario at Point Molate with 670 residential units and preservation of at least 70 percent of the 270 acres at Point Molate as open space. The precise number and location of any residential units at Point Molate will be determined during the public process, but the 670 residential units called for by the Judgment must comply with the City’s inclusionary housing ordinance. In addition, the Winehaven Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be preserved for adaptive reuse. After it makes a decision on land use entitlements, the City plans to sell parcels at Point Molate within two years. As part of the Judgment, proceeds from the sale of development property at Point Molate will be shared equally between the City and Plaintiffs, which will bring revenue to the City’s General Fund.”
At the workshop, citizens shared visions: protecting habitat, public access, transportation logistics, community outreach, affordable housing, infrastructure concerns, and public art to name a few. As an arts advocate, my hope is to support the community’s vision through creativity. Research, listening, and understanding will be key to consensus.
Point Molate is a unique, rare, and special opportunity for Richmond. The Headland Centers for the Arts located in neighboring Marin County shares a similar history. Perhaps, artist Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses in Houston’s Historic Third Ward could inspire and expand the possibilities at Point Molate. Once a final decision is made, that will be the lasting legacy for future generations. Time to listen and get to work!