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Project Underway To Transform Oakland Army Base Into Cargo Hub

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- City and state officials broke ground Friday on a $500 million redevelopment project at a former U.S. Army base that will create a new hub for transporting cargo into and out of Oakland.

Part of a larger $1.2 billion Oakland Global master plan, the project will create a complex including 1 million square feet of warehouses for imports and exports on 140 acres of former army base land now owned by the city of Oakland.

In addition, work began in July on the construction of part of a new railyard on about 10 acres of adjacent Port of Oakland property, officials said.

City officials said the project includes a requirement that contractors make use of local labor, and agreements with labor to step up apprenticeship programs for local youth. A jobs center will also be created in West Oakland.

"This project will provide good quality blue-collar jobs to the young people of Oakland," Mayor Jean Quan said today at a groundbreaking attended by officials including Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee.

City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney said the project would provide some "reparations" for her constituents in West Oakland, who were hit the hardest by the closure of the Oakland Army Base in 1999.

The 366-acre base was handed over to the city and port in 2003 but the city took about 10 years to settle on how to develop the property. Among the various proposals for the site that were considered were a movie studio, an Indian casino and a retail center and office complex.

Ultimately, however, the city opted for a proposal from developers ProLogis and California Capital & Investment Group that would capitalize on the port and its rail connections by creating a packaging and distribution center to increase its capacity.

The new warehouse complex will also allow the offloading and repackaging of goods to be localized in one place, reducing truck traffic, emissions and wear on street and highways, officials said.

The project is funded in part by two "highly-competitive" federal grants and a state grant.

A planned second phase of the project will take place on Port of Oakland land and will include additional logistics and cold-storage facilities, a new intermodal railyard and a new Seventh Street grade separation.

City officials hope the first phase of the project will generate 1,500 on-site construction jobs and 1,800 permanent operations jobs once the facilities are completed. On a regional level, the project is expected to generate another 3,142 jobs due to the economic benefits.

City officials expect the entire Oakland Global project to generate an additional $2.9 million in annual tax revenue for local agencies once completed.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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