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Residents present alternatives to casino for Point Molate

on September 10, 2010

Citizens at a forum on alternatives to the Point Molate casino plan Wednesday suggested developing a wind farm and solar energy plant, among other ideas. Tarnel Abbott, a Richmond resident of 25 years, noted in her green energy plan that Point Molate’s westward-facing position would be conducive to a wind farm.  Architect Darrell Caraway presented a mixed-use plan for the site.

Wednesday was the second of three forums the city is offering to invite the public to present ideas for developing Point Molate. Six options are already under review, including one similar to Caraway’s proposal.  Steve Duran, the Executive Director of Richmond’s Community Development Agency, said Wednesday he was unsure either of the two proposals offered would be suitable for the site.

“I don’t know if it’s different enough,” Duran said of Caraway’s plan.

Architect Darrell Caraway explains his plan to transform Point Molate into a thriving town.

The Berkeley firm Design, Community & Environment (DCE) hosted Wednesday’s workshop, along with the Richmond Planning Department. DCE president David Early said the company has an obligation to the city, paid for by casino developer Upstream L.L.C., to analyze all the proposals for Point Molate and make a recommendation to the city.

Half the options under review include a mixed-use tribal resort and casino, a controversial project proposed by the Guidiville Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians.  The tribe has petitioned the federal government for trust land at Point Molate. In an agreement with the city, the tribe and its partner, Upstream L.L.C., have promised that thousands of the jobs created by the casino project would go to Richmond residents, who are suffering from 18.5 percent unemployment.

“The absolute, deep, real concern is about joblessness,” Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman said. “That’s where the casino gets its support.”

Roughly half of Richmond residents support the casino’s development and half oppose it, Ritterman said. “It’s a wedge issue that divides our community.”

Condemned houses and historic buildings line the streets of Point Molate.

Among those who came Wednesday night to oppose the casino was Wende Heath, who lives near Point Molate in the San Pablo Yacht Harbor.

Heath and other opponents favor designating Point Molate for mixed-use development, limiting the area to park spaces, or doing nothing at all. These are the other three options the city is reviewing. “The idea that a casino is going to go in breaks our hearts,” Heath said.

Meanwhile, Jim Levine, managing partner of the developer, Upstream, says his company is paying the city $115,000 a month for basic maintenance of the site. Levine estimates he has paid out more than $16 million since the city selected Upstream as the developer in 2003. “The city has to make a decision,” Levine said.

The final workshop on alternative plans for Point Molate will be held on November 17, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.


  1. Darrell on September 10, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you City of Richmond for allowing us to present a comprehensive plan with a financially viable integrated plan for underground and half berm development in order that the natural terrain and landscape may be preserved at Point Molate. Thank you also residents for the support I have received for this plan which can be built in phases beginning with the retrofit of Wine Haven building number 6.

  2. Bruce Kaplan on September 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Few RIchmond residents want a casino per se, and when they get an accurate and complete Environmental Impact Report, they’ll be even less enthusiastic about the Upstream Proposal. What they DO want is a plan to gain some economic benefit from Point Molate. Unfortunately, Upstream has an exclusive contract with the city (one that has been extended a number of times) and this deters other developers from pursuing other project ideas that might be a better match for the area.

    • Darrell on September 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      The plan I have provided is suggestive and could be implemented, but more importantly by presenting it to the developers in person I think we got a real connection with them and I would expect there to be some greater depth of consideration given to the site after such a presentation, and I saw people in the audience nodding in agreement. I want the developer to use some or all of my ideas and adapt their plans to my build out master plan. The plans are currently not complete from any architect, and as a commercial property it is required to have an architect so we expected to have some cooperation and to help expedite some of the work and of course we have our expectations about the project, come what may. If nothing else maybe just restore the main building and cottages for now, and preserve the barns and fire station buildings; remove the toxic aspects of the site.

    • Darrell on September 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      thanks Bruce. Got it.

      • Darrell on September 20, 2010 at 8:57 am

        Now I believe what is being said. This process is flawed. But it is their process and I can not make them do anything. As I saw it, the developer is not an Architect, however, and they still need one because the designs they have unfinished. Thank you for allowing me to throw my hat into the ring. I am also working on shoreline images all along a winding path all the way to San Pablo, so it is a large area.

  3. Steve on September 23, 2010 at 5:08 am

    I think it is a good idea. We always must have some alternatives

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