ALAMEDA -- The City Council has moved to take ownership of about 1,370 acres of the former Alameda Naval Air Station from the federal government, the first phase in the eventual transfer of the entire site to the city.

The step, which the council approved unanimously Tuesday, helps clear the way toward redeveloping the property, which is divided into 66 parcels. It consists of 509 acres of land and 870 acres under San Francisco Bay just off the former military base, now known as Alameda Point.

Approving the conveyance from the U.S. Navy is "a major milestone" for transforming the area, Councilwoman Lena Tam said.

The parcels have restrictions on how they may be redeveloped based on what they were once used for and how much environmental clean-up they need.

By dividing up the property, city officials expect it will be more attractive to investors over having fewer and larger parcels, according to Jennifer Ott, chief operating officer for Alameda Point. The goal is reduce uncertainty around the environmental issues, she said.

The property is expected to be turned over to the city in early June.

"This is truly a happy occasion and we are very happy to see this item come before us," Mayor Marie Gilmore said Tuesday before the council reviewed the conveyance documents and authorized City Manager John Russo to accept them. Gilmore noted that about 500 acres of the property has unrestricted land use, which could possibly speed up its redevelopment.

Clearing the way for the conveyance follows the U.S. Navy agreeing to drop the $108 million price tag for the former base in September 2011 and give it at no cost to the city.

Alameda and Navy officials worked out the agreement while negotiating a no-cost conveyance plan for the 50 acres at the former base that the city had proposed for the second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, a deal that fell through.

The passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010, which included provisions related to economic development conveyances, also played a part in the deal, according to Alameda officials.

City officials will next begin work on zoning amendments and drafting a master infrastructure plan for area Ott said. They will also be working with a consultant to help create a "town center" along the waterfront.

The aim is to have an Environmental Impact Report for this first phase of conveyance -- which includes the areas west of Main Street -- before the council in January and to possibly begin building infrastuure within two years, Ott said.

Other areas of Alameda Point, such as the former Sea Plane Lagoon, will be turned over to the city in the next several years. The entire transfer is expected to be completed by 2019.

The city lost about 14,000 military and civilian jobs when the former Navy base closed in 1997. Alameda officials believe up to 9,000 permanent jobs will be created and millions of dollars in local and state tax revenues will be generated as it is redeveloped.

The move to accept the first phase of conveyance comes as city officials have announced retailers that have pledged to open at the former Fleet Industrial Supply Center.The Corner Bakery, Sleep Train, Michaels and the Habit Burger Grill are expected to open, as well as Safeway and Target.

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