Property Available on Alameda’s Exclusive Grand Street for Just $400K – Alameda Post

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Buyer beware: 10,130 sq. ft. parcel is inside a lagoon

The real estate listing for 610 Grand Street entices prospective buyers to “come create and build a slice of heaven where the backyard is an aquatic oasis of calm and peace.” Easily within walking distance of Rittler Park, Wood Middle School, South Shore Center, and several public transit options, it seems like a perfect place for a family to settle down—particularly with a price tag of only $400,000.

There is just one complicating factor: 610 Grand Street is under water.

Alameda Post - 610 Grand Street, which is in the lagoon and entirely covered with water
610 Grand Street, as seen from the Grand Street bridge. Photo Ken Der.

The listing makes that clear, cautioning that any buyer may need to go through an extensive approval process before construction activity can occur on the 10,130-square-foot lot, which is located on the water in the lagoon immediately east of Grand Street.

The lot was originally San Francisco Bay tideland and part of a single property owned by Arthur Cleveland Oppenheimer—a fruit-processing magnate, according to Mary McInerney in Alameda Magazine—that also encompassed 650 and 700 Grand Street. Oppenheimer built a main house, tennis courts, and a guest house overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Alameda Post - a map of lots, including 610 Grand Street
Oppenheimer’s property once included 700, 650, and 610 Grand Street, identified by the three parcels—from top to bottom—in the red box. Alameda County Parcel Viewer map.

By the time Utah Construction filled Alameda’s tidelands to create South Shore during the late 1950s, Cindy Rankin Seibert’s family owned the portion of the property on land. After her mother’s death, Seibert divided the property, sold 700 Grand Street, and retained 650 Grand for family and friends, according to Kerry O’Hara Plain, who currently resides at 650 Grand.

The Oppenheimer family and trust held onto and paid taxes on the remaining property within the newly constructed lagoon until 2015, years after the deaths of Oppenheimer and his son, Arthur Cleveland Oppenheimer II. By late 2022, Alameda County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector put the tax-defaulted property, now known as 610 Grand Street, up for auction with a minimum bid of $1,142.

The property was sold at auction in March 2023 for $100,100 to its current owner, a San Lorenzo-based pastor, who declined to be interviewed for this story. He purchased the parcel as an investment property for his family and hoped to fix it and flip it, according to April Jones, an East Bay real estate agent and broker representing the pastor. The buyer did not realize that the property was underwater until Jones visited the site to take photographs. He is now selling it to recoup his losses.

Alameda Post - the Grand Street bridge and the lot that is underwater
610 Grand Street, as seen from 650 Grand, looking towards the Grand Street bridge. Photo Ken Der.

“It’s created a real hardship for the buyer,” Jones said, noting that the pastor is frustrated at his inability to do anything with the property, which had reached 300 days on the market as of this writing.

Part of the confusion came from the fact that the parcel is zoned R-1, “One Family Residential,” despite its location on/under the water. Furthermore, searching “610 Grand Street” on Google Maps leads to an erroneous location on the 800 block of Grand, though the Alameda County Office of Assessor’s Parcel Viewer displays the correct location.

Viktoria Kuehn, a Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)—which was created in 1965 in part to prevent further filling of the Bay—confirmed for the Alameda Post that the agency does not have jurisdiction over the lagoons or the parcel at 610 Grand.

City of Alameda Planning Manager Steven Buckley highlighted several criteria any proposed structure on the site must meet due to its unique geometry.

“This parcel also has restrictions on it, with an easement prohibiting the obstruction of navigation and maintenance in the waterway,” Buckley stated in an email to the Alameda Post. “Therefore, building on this lot would require a design that allows for the free passage of water and watercraft beneath it.”

And that is on top of needing to overcome challenges in establishing utility connections, building access, and structural support.

Alameda Post - a look into the structure around 610 Grand, the underwater lot
This small portion of land offers a potential access point to any structure built above the water on 610 Grand Street. Photo Ken Der.

Jones has received some inquiries from interested parties, but so far, no one has sealed the deal.

“Architects I’ve spoken with have said it would be fairly expensive to build on the lot,” Jones said. But she believes the $400,000 asking price is reasonable considering the property values and amenities in the surrounding area.

Of course, buyers could build something as simple as a public dock on the property for recreational boaters to access the lagoon. But constructing a new family home consistent with current zoning will likely require time, money, and a healthy dose of imagination.

Alameda Post - an illustration from a children's book. A whimsical Lilly pad home is constructed on a pond. Small characters enjoy the home
Henrietta Mouse’s design for Frog’s pad offers a playful inspiration for the possibilities on 610 Grand. Illustration by Doris Susan Smith in Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse! by George Mendoza. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1981.

Ken Der is a contributing writer for the Alameda Post. Contact him via [email protected]. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Ken-Der.

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