AB&I Foundry, a century-old Oakland company, is located on San Leandro Street near the Coliseum. Credit: Amir Aziz

The owners of AB&I Foundry in East Oakland, which is closing and moving operations to Texas, want to develop the site into a modern “thriving employment center,” according to an application filed with city planners on Monday.

The applicant, Jason Bernstein of Duke Realty, proposes to build industrial and office buildings, with a loading dock, and stalls for truck trailers and containers. AB&I Foundry, a 15-acre site near the Coliseum, is owned by the Alabama-based McWane, Inc. 

“The proposed project represents an opportunity to develop a best-in-class modern industrial building representing a significant investment in East Oakland,” the application says. “The project generates benefits for the local community and is a proactive response to the current economic and market demands.” 

Earlier this month, McWane announced the permanent closure of the foundry, which has operated in Oakland since 1906, currently at 7825 San Leandro Street. About 200 union jobs will move along with operations to another McWane, Inc. facility in Tyler, Texas. The shutdown will happen in stages and a full closure is expected within the year, the company said. 

That announcement came less than a month after Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the cast iron pipe manufacturer, accusing it of violating state law by not warning neighbors that it spews cancer-causing chemicals in the air. 

The redevelopment application calls for constructing a 40 foot tall, 325,000 square foot industrial building, 25,000 square feet of office space, a loading dock with 50 dock doors, 35 trailer stalls, 28 container stalls, and 184 parking spaces. 

The project is being done on a speculative basis, meaning without signed leases or identified tenants. According to the application, the space would be designed to allow for multiple industrial uses, including warehousing and distribution. 

Bernstein could not be reached for comment. Duke Realty is proposing another massive East Oakland redevelopment project. The Indiana-based developer has purchased the former Owens-Brockway glass manufacturing plant, located on Alameda Avenue near the Fruitvale and Jingletown neighborhoods, and plans to demolish it and build a 426,000 square foot industrial, manufacturing, or warehouse building. Duke Realty’s list of tenants includes Amazon, Carter’s, Dick’s, and Weber-Stephen, according to the company’s website

A spokesperson for McWane, Inc. did not respond before publication time. The application stated that the “proposal creates a thriving center and is designed to conform to the industrial nature of the area. The redevelopment of the site will redevelop a heavy industrial site that has drawn attention from residents near and far and change it into a modern facility.” 

East Oakland environmental justice groups have long complained about potentially harmful emissions from AB&I. Communities for a Better Environment, a statewide organization with a local presence in East Oakland and Richmond, sued the foundry and its owners in December.

Esther Goolsby, an East Oakland resident and organizer with CBE, said the organization is closely watching the development proposal. Goolsby, who has lived near the foundry for 29 years, worries a warehouse or distribution center will increase truck trips to the site. 

“There’s going to be more diesel in the air and it’s less than a mile from a library, elementary schools and residents,” Goolsby said. “It has to go through a full environmental analysis and East Oakland residents should be fully informed and be able to comment. This permit is just the beginning.”

David DeBolt reported on City Hall and policing for The Oaklandside. He spent 12 years working for daily newspapers in the Bay Area, including on the Peninsula and Solano County. He joined the Bay Area News Group in 2012 where he covered a variety of beats, most recently as a senior breaking news reporter. During his time at BANG, DeBolt covered Oakland City Hall, the Raiders stadium saga and the A’s search for a new ballpark, as well as the Oakland Police Department and police reform efforts. He was part of the East Bay Times staff honored with the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.