ALAMEDA — A vacant lot at the corner of one of the city’s busiest intersections will become the site of a tavern, a hint life may be inching back to n
ALAMEDA — A vacant lot at the corner of one of the city’s busiest intersections will become the site of a tavern, a hint life may be inching back to normal as pandemic restrictions ease.
Commuters will pass the future watering hole as they make their way to the new ferry terminal at Alameda Point, which officially opened open Thursday. Known as the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal, it was completed last August last year.
But the opening was put on hold because of COVID-19, according to the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which runs the service.
The tavern will be a sister business of the Mad Oak Bar ‘n’ Yard on 12th Street in Oakland — named for its location between Madison and Oak streets in Oakland’s downtown. It will be across from the College of Alameda at Webster Street and Atlantic Avenue.
It’s also just around the corner from the Thrifty Kitty, a thrift store that will benefit the nonprofit that runs the Alameda animal shelter. Like the ferry terminal, the shop officially opened Thursday.
Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft noted that much of the new housing in Alameda is planned for the former Navy base in the west end of town, and new residents will be using the ferry terminal or visiting places such as the future tavern to meet friends and relax.
Ashcraft said she viewed the development of the business and the new terminal as linked, because both can help each other succeed by drawing people to the neighborhood.
“The West End is getting some love,” Ashcraft said in an interview. “But I also think these things, especially the new terminal, signal that we are moving away from the pandemic. There is just a little ways to go.”
Chester Nguyen, 23, an Alameda resident, said he was unaware of the planned tavern. But he said he thought it sounded like a good idea.
“It seems like there is a lot of fast food places on Webster,” Nguyen said Saturday after he exited the Starbucks across the street from the now-vacant lot.
“I’d be willing to try it,” Jason Phan, 22, also of Alameda and Nguyen’s friend, said about the future business. “It probably will be popular because of the busy location.”
Along with an indoor bar, the future Mad Oak West will have a patio and two second-story outdoor decks for customers.
The Planning Board has unanimously signed off on the project.
Developer Daniel Cukierman told the board the idea of the outdoor deck is to “blur the lines of where the inside/outside is.”
“It creates a tavern, a meeting space,” resident Zac Bowling told the board.”Having this will help revitalize Webster Street.”
Linda Asbury, executive director of the West Alameda Business Association, said retailers and businesses back the future establishment, which would be next to the planned Cross Alameda Trail.
When it’s completed, the walking and cycling path will offer a connection between the former U.S. Navy base at the edge of the bay to a neighborhood along the Oakland Estuary and Oakland’s Fruitvale district.
“It’s a great location,” Asbury said in an interview. “It’s so close to the Webster Tube, which means it will be one of the first businesses drivers see when they arrive in Alameda from Oakland. We think it’s going to be a great fit.”
“There is a lot to celebrate,” Ashcraft said.
Councilman Tony Daysog said in an email that Webster Street has managed to “keep its funky and eclectic character, all of which is to the credit of locally owned, small mom-and-pop proprietors.”
“But the change we see all around us in the West End has not come without its downside,” Daysog added, “as we can’t forget that in 2004 over 400 lower-income, largely minority families were forcibly kicked out of what is now called Summer House Apartments, because the Florida-based owners at the time wanted to take advantage of rising property values resulting from the Bayport development on Alameda Point.”