The 413-acre former Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot (NFD) contains about 290 acres of land above high tide elevation. Located on Richmond’s shoreline about a mile north of the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge, this unique site contains:
- 1.4 miles of unoccupied shoreline
- A 400 foot high ridge line with sweeping views of two bays, a Victorian island lighthouse, Mount Tamalpais and Mount Saint Helena
- A 1400 foot long pier providing deep water access
- the 41-acre Winehaven Historic District
- A Rhineland-style castle that was part of the largest winery in the U.S. prior to Prohibition
- Extensive inter tidal eel grass beds and
- Rare coastal prairie and coastal bluff native plant communities.
Once the largest winery
in the United States, the
41-acre Winehaven Historic District is recognized under both Federal
and State law.
Beginning in 1942, Point Molate served as a U.S. Navy fuel storage and transfer facility. It closed on September 30, 1995 under the U.S. Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990. The Navy sold 218 acres of the property to the City of Richmond for one dollar in September 2003. Transfer of the remaining land was completed in March 2010 under an Early Transfer Cooperative Agreement under which the Navy provided the City with $28.5 million for a cleanup approach agreed upon by the parties and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The cleanup has been largely completed, but monitoring for potential pollutants continues.
On Nov. 24, 2004 the City of Richmond entered into a Land Disposition Agreement with Upstream Point Molate LLC to sell former Naval Fuel Depot Point Molate for $50 million. In 2011, the Richmond City Council and the Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the tribal gambling casino proposed by Upstream and the Guideville Band of Pomo Indians following certification of a Final Environmental Impact Report
and federal EIS. On February 3, 2015, the federal district court ruled in favor of the City on a lawsuit filed by Upstream and the Guideville Band in 2012. However, the plaintiffs filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. While awaiting resolution of this litigation, the City reopened Point Molate Beach Park
in 2013 and in late 2015 began considering next steps for realizing the potential of this unique property.
Bay Nature magazine featured the natural world
of Point Molate in the article "Betting
on Point Molate" by
In particular, Native
Plants are real survivors at Point Molate. The
uplands of Point Molate are distinguished by coastal terrace prairie
and northern coastal bluff scrub plant communities where the major
conservation issue is unmanaged invasive alien plants. The inter
tidal zone is distinguished by abundant eelgrass beds and a variety
of kelp. It is mostly rocky with the exception of sand/mud flats
offshore Point Molate beach.
The September, 1998
Plant Survey And Habitat Assessment report for Point Molate NFD, which was prepared
by Michael Wood of Sycamore Associates and Tetra Tech, states:
plant taxa of botanical significance do occur on site;”
terrace prairie and northern coastal bluff scrub habitats are exceedingly
rare in the East Bay and represent diminishing habitats throughout
• “the native perennial grasses
.... exhibit very high levels of density and diversity. Native
grasslands of comparable quality are extremely uncommon in the
East Bay, as well as in more coastal areas in Marin County;”
diversity of wildflowers in the grasslands is also unusual in the
Plans for Point Molate
The Richmond General Plan 2030
designates the former Point Molate Navy Fuel Depot area as a combination of Business/Light Industrial, Medium-Density Residential, Low- Density Residential, Open Space and Parks and Recreation to reflect the conceptual land uses in the adopted 1997 Point Molate Reuse Plan.
The Point Molate Reuse Plan was developed by a 45-member Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee and approved by the City Council in 1997 acting as the Local Reuse Authority to serve as the guide for the reuse and development of the site. It calls for a mixed use development concept with 191 acres reserved for shoreline park and hillside open space lands as shown on the Conceptual Land Use Plan and Open Space Plan.
Uses proposed for buildings in the Winehaven Historic
- Winehaven Building - winery, restaurant, museum, retail, meeting
rooms, performing arts and a recording studio
- Historic winery cottages - conference center, retreat, B&B,
Existing buildings on a 20-acre site immediately south
of Winehaven are proposed for a winery, live/work, warehousing,
job training and light industrial uses. Single
and multifamily residential development is recommended
on about 38 acres of relatively flat land south of the
above development areas.
Molate Beach Park Reopened October 14, 2013
Implementing Plans for Point Molate
Aside from Point Molate Beach Park, there is no public access to the property, and the City may not sell or enter into long term leases until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the District Court’s ruling in favor of the City. The court has scheduled oral arguments for mid-February and is expected to issue a ruling three to four months later. In the meantime the City is considering how to proceed once the litigation has been resolved satisfactorily. A major hurdle being addressed is the cost and funding to provide adequate utility infrastructure, i.e, water, sewage collection/treatment, electricity and natural gas.
The Way Forward
report sponsored by Bay Crossings lays out many of the issues and options for moving ahead with development of the property.
“… the potential economic development program for Pont Molate should have a recreations/leisure, hospitality, and residential focus. Specifically, identified uses include a hotel with moderate amount of conference and event space, a restaurant, and possibly camping facilities, supported by accessory recreation uses. Other uses include rental apartments and one or more wineries."
With the City’s support, the Urban Land Institute agreed to TPL’s request to convene a Technical Advisory Panel to recommend implementation strategies for moving proactively forward to create a successful mixed use, recreation and hospitality destination with an iconic regional park for visitors from throughout the Bay Area and beyond. This experienced panel with members of diverse talents met on March 10-11, 2016 and presented its sage advice on options for the City to pursue in phases with actions required to make progress. The Conclusions were:
• Tough choices based on political and economic limitations of the site, but limitations provide clear framework for path forward
• Status Quo faces increasing costs based on continued and significant deterioration
• The City should partner with East Bay Regional Park District
• Trade offs:
– Role of the historic structures – targeted focus needed
– Role of Commercial/Industrial Uses
– Role of Housing as a driver
• All uses will need to be investigated in more detail. Park Plus option is immediately attainable, but won't provide infrastructure. The mixed use option is the clearest path to realize the highest site potential.
CLICK HERE to view the ULI report offering guidance for moving forward with Point Molate development.
On October 5, 2016, EBRPD sent a letter (CLICK HERE) to the Mayor and City Council expressing their interest in developing Point Molate Regional Shoreline park in accordance with their Master Plan once the City has identified lands available for parks and open space.
You may get involved by attending a meeting of the Point Molate Community Advisory Committee (PMCAC) on the second Monday of most months. You also may Click Here to send an email to the PMCAC chair and the City’s Point Molate Project Manager with your thoughts on current conditions and/or ideas for the future.