Home Buying in Alameda>Question Details

Parag, Home Buyer in Fremont, CA

Alameda - Main island versus Bay Farm

Asked by Parag, Fremont, CA Thu Apr 3, 2008

I am looking to buy in the Alameda area. I think its a nice town with a cute downtown. Problem is that I live in Fremont at present and so I have only made a couple of trips to Alameda to get a general feel of the place. Any residents, ex-residents have any feedback on the kind of place it is? Pluses, Minuses..

Also, what's the difference between the main island versus 94502? I see some significant price differences. Is that due to schools, income levels? Would love to hear feedback.

Thanks.

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Hi, I am a native Alamedan, grew up and lived on Bay Farm for 23 years and have lived on the main island for 35 years. I am still here! I have been selling real estate here for over 24 years. 94502 consists of 2 areas, Bay Farm Island and Harbor Bay. Bay Farm Island for the most part consists of the small older homes and townhouses in which prices are approx $500,000 to $750,000. There are 2 fairly new developments in Bay Farm too. Harbor Bay is filled in land with homes and townhouses and prices start approx $500,000 up to 2 million. The community of Harbor Bay has homes on lagoons with walking and bicycle paths everywhere. Harbor Bay was developed in the early 1980's. The Oakland airport is located directly behind Bay Farm and Harbor Bay. The Main Island is very different. We refer to the island as the east end, west end and Southshore areas. The west end is where the Naval Air Station was located. The homes consist of Victorians,Craftsman, bungalows and some new developments. The Fernside district is located on the east end of the city and is very desirable with homes starting in the $600,000 to $900,000. Gibbons Drive, Southwood Drive, Northwood Drive are larger homes and can be priced up to $1,000,000. Homes in the east end of Alameda from Fernside to Park Street are consist of ranch, bungalows,townhouses, condos and range from $300,000 to approx $700,000. The Gold Coast in in middle of the city and these Grand homes were the vacation homes for the rich San Franciscans and were built in the late 1800's early 1900's. Prices in the millions. The far west end has consists of many types of homes and prices range from $600,000 to a million for a townhouse. Southshore are mainly ranch homes and condos with prices from $300,000 for a condo and homes around $700,000. Alameda has a good police and fire dept, many activities for children, bike paths and the Park St and Webster St districts have really improved regarding shopping and restaurants. Our Alameda Theater is finally been renovated after 37 years and we are looking forward to its grand opening in May! I sold our new police cheif a home and he really is working hard to clean up crime. We have great parks and recreation facilities too! Our city is a great place to live! We also have 2 Ferry's stations. Go to my website http;//www.jeanpowers.net click on Great Fun Links and there is a section full of Alameda information. I also have information on my blogs about Alameda. Call me, I know my city well, I will take you on a tour!
Web Reference: http://JeanSellsDreams.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 3, 2008
Good Evening Parag,
My name is AJ Cohen with the Bleier Team of Alain Pinel in Danville and I would be more than happy to give you a history of Alameda. I lived in Alameda for almost 20 years, my parents still live there, my sister lives there, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. I also own a preschool with my family on Encinal Avenue (fuzzycaterpillarpreschool.com). I have the history so lets talk shop. First off Alameda wonderful town from top to bottom, 94501 consists of the mainland and 94502 is Bayfarm Island. Lets start on Bayfarm, which if it had a heart would be Island Drive. As you come over the Bayfarm bridge you follow Island Drive all the way past the golf course, past Amelia Earhart Elementary School, past the Safeway shopping center and straight through to homes and townhomes. The HOAs on Bayfarm are rather high but the homes range from small older single family near Beach Rd for about 500K to big 3500 sq ft single family homes built in the late 90s priced around 1.3 million. You really can not go wrong on Bayfarm which is very relaxed and beautiful set alongside tte golf course. It does get a little hectic leaving for work in the morning but many people take Doolittle Drive or the ferry in to the city. The main land is so vast and difficult to truly cover in this email, and honestly there is so much more to Bayfarm itself. In short the mainland's heart is Park Street to it's south you get Broadway and High St. than across Bay Farm bridge to Bayfarm Island. To the north of Park St you head towards Grand and on to Webster and the Webster tube into Oakland. The strongest economy and highest home values trend from Grand towards High street. As you get into Webster it suffers. There is a wonderful shopping center that has undergone a major transformation along the beach http://www.alamedatownecentre.com/ I am also going to including a link that can go into very specific demographic data for 94501 and 94502 http://www.city-data.com/zips/94501.html Other than that I am partial to Alameda High over Encinal (I need to stay true to my own school). I would enjoy discussing with you in much further detail and giving more specifics on what Alameda has to offer, we can even take a day to tour the city, have some coffee and talk shop if it interests you. If you would like to continue the discussion you can reach me by email at ajcohen@apr.com or directly at 925.819.2747.
Have a great evening,
AJ Cohen
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 3, 2008
Another thing: because it's so small and isolated (it is an island, after all), Alameda is hardly a shopping or nightlife hot spot the way San Francisco or Emeryville are. I see that as a HUGE plus, because it means less traffic and less noise, and so the abundant wildlife has a chance to thrive. It's also very quiet at night. In the Gold Coast neighborhood, for example, you can hear the leaves rustle and the squirrels do their thing at all hours of the day, most of the time -- Halloween and July 4th are the only days I've noticed a frenzy of activity.

We do have coffee shops (at least 5 Starbucks shops or outlets, one Peet's), bookstores, antique shops and dry-cleaners, esp. on the main island, so it's not a desert :) As far as "standard" stores, there's a new Borders opening soon, a Trader Joe's, 2 Safeways, a Bed Bath & Beyond, a Robeks, a Mervyns, an Old Navy, lots of restaurants (some chains, like Applebee's, lots of locally-owned joints), Office Max, 7/11, a ton of liquor stores in the old navy West side, and misc. other conveniences. And if you must shop more, Emeryville and Berkeley are 20 mins away, and San Francisco about 35 minutes away.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
Living in Fremont you probably know that the main island of Alameda is very small in comparison to the big cities around here and the United States. True we have to travel through another city to get to BART and the freeways. We are very diverse compared to over 50 years ago and my children are better off because of the diversity. It is a great town with minimal problems and where else on this side of the Bay can you find a nice beach looking to San Francisco
Web Reference: http://jeanpowers.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
I moved to 94501 about 2 1/2 years ago and love it. The town feels safe, the weather beats SF, and the city is small in a good way. I'm an old-house buff, so architecturally I have no use for 94502, but it's still a beautiful area with great homes, golfing and wildlife. I really enjoy hanging out in the old town, looking at beautiful homes, or bird watching at the preserve by my house. Everything you might need is close-by, it seems.

The only minus I can think of is that you need to go to Oakland if you want to ride BART: there's no station in Alameda, so getting to and from a station adds some time to your commute. It's also not the most diverse community, at least not in my experience having lived in and around Los Angeles. There's definitely a good deal of cultural, ethnic and income diversity, but the makeup of the population feels different from, say, LA, SJ or NYC. (I sincerely hope this last remark wasn't insensitive or illegal).

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 8, 2008
Here it is:

The weather is better on the main island. Bay Farm is colder and windy. When I lived in Bay Farm I knew people who moved because of that.

Bay Farm is excellent for the athletic. It has beautiful walking paths, water views all around, and is a great place to run or bike.

Bay Farm has a safe, removed from all the problems of the world feel. Is is very upper middle class and has a well cared for atmosphere.

Bay Farm has a club/ fitness center that a lot of people love. It has a large pool, tennis courts and fitness equipment. It is a great place to meet people.

Bay Farm has a delightful shopping area with a nice grocery store, friendly coffee shops and restaurants. It is not large, but it is nice. You can walk there from just about everywhere.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
Hi Parag:

I lived in Alameda all my life (now live in the Sacramento area and I hate it - I will always miss my home on the main island). Every since I was a kid (now 48 years old) there always has been that rivalry between the two islands (Bay Farm, by the way is not an island - it is not totally surrounded by water). Anyway, honestly, I would suggest Alameda to you. Do you have young kids? They have the best schools! Also, something the adults would ramble on and on about when I was a kid . . . "If you are going to buy a home and live in Alameda, buy a piece of the rock." What now is Otis Drive which takes you to the big shopping center, was once the old seawall. Bay Farm is mostly fill, the area known as South Shore is all fill - so you may want to check into that. The second home we purchased there (when I was 10) was owned by one of the decendents of the Peralta family, on San Jose Avenue.

Anyway, hope this helps, good luck to you - if you have any more questions my email is: kpillado@ltglaw.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 18, 2009
I suppose it may mean that it will be better than Burger King or the Big Mac. I don't eat meat but I guess most people do.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
Neat, thanks for the info. Isn't "upscale burger place" an oxymoron, though? :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
They refurbished the original theater and it will still be one theater with a balcony .Next to the original theater and the new garage, (which we really needed) I think there will be 5 or 6 other theaters. Unfortunately I do not think it will host live productions even though there is a stage. I was told by our Police Chief that there will be an upscale burger place to the right of the theater (if facing it) and to the left facing Central there will be an upscale restaurant. I feel that the Park St district is finally in good shape and Southshore (Town Center) is looking good too. There will be some nice restaurants going in there too. Have a good week!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
Cool! Is it just a movie theater, or can it host live shows as well?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
Best of All! Our Alameda Theater is opening again! They did a fantastic job refurbishing the interior like it was when I was young!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
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