By Jeannie Howard
In a region where land is at a premium, few plots in the Bay Area go unused. Whether for commercial or residential development or left in a natural state for outdoor recreational use, something is done with a property. This has not been the case for Point Molate in Richmond. Since the military sold the land to the city after the Navy closed the fuel depot, the more than 400-acre parcel has sat in limbo for nearly 25 years just waiting for a new purpose.
From being the home of Wine Haven, a destination winery prior to prohibition, to having processing facilities for industries such of fishing, whaling, and petroleum, Point Molate was a hub of activity in the early 20th century. Today, the Point Molate Beach Park is the only portion of the property that is used, which is a small portion of the nearly 290 terrestrial, or land, acres of the property. According to Lina Velasco, Planning and Building Services Director for the City of Richmond, the city’s goal is to bring back vibrancy to the beautiful location. “A majority of the property is closed and no one is really benefiting from it,” Velasco shared.
“The city has been envisioning the redevelopment of this site since 1995 when the Navy closed the fuel depot,” said Velasco. “We want a development project that is compatible with the setting, respects its location, and minimizes the potential for adverse impact on the biological resources that are on the site.”
Serving as a framework for all development plans, the Point Molate Reuse Plan, developed by a 45-member community board known as the Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee, outlines relatively broad plans for the site, which include housing, recreation, and the rehabilitation and repurposing of the historic Wine Haven buildings. Since the city council adopted the Reuse Plan in 1997, coming to an agreement on a concrete development plan for the land has not been easy.