GGF Waits as Berkeley Lab Choice Delayed

Golden Gate Fields one of six finalists for new University of California campus.

Golden Gate Fields officials will have to wait until next year to find out if the Albany track will be the preferred site for the second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Bay Area.

University of California officials were expected to announce its selection for the preferred site of the new Berkeley Lab this month. But in a news release Nov. 22, it was announced that the timeline for that decision has been moved back to early in 2012. There are six finalists for the new UC campus.

“We have been working diligently over the past months since announcing our list of finalists,” Berkeley Lab director Paul Alivisatos said in a statement. “We want to thank all the cities, developers, and community members who have been participating in our selection process. We have been overwhelmed by the positive and extremely thoughtful responses from the communities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, and Richmond.

"We are deeply grateful for such well-formulated responses, but find that we need a bit more time to fully evaluate our options and to confer with stakeholders in order to arrive at the best possible decision. We have a number of excellent options before us. Our goal now is to complete this phase of the process and announce a preferred site as soon as we can.”

The Stronach Group owns Golden Gate Fields. Joe Morris, interim general manager at Golden Gate Fields, said he has not been in direct contact with UC officials.

"We had heard that we might be getting an announcement reducing the number of finalists, or perhaps a final selection with a couple of alternate sites," he said.

The plan for the second campus is to consolidate existing Berkeley Lab bio-science programs currently in leased space throughout the East Bay, to provide opportunity for future laboratory expansion, and to secure a venue that continues the 80-year tradition of close collaboration between the Berkeley Lab and the UC Berkeley campus.

In May, Golden Gate was selected as one of the finalists from more than 20 sites that responded to a request for proposals earlier in the year.

If chosen, the 140-acre bayfront track, with property in both Albany and neighboring Berkeley, would eventually be torn down and major racing in Northern California would be moved to a new venue. Morris, who replaced Robert Hartman as the track's general manager late this summer, said he has been concentrating on racing and has not been part of ownership discussions of a possible replacement site.

"I know that Frank Stronach is committed to continuing racing in Northern California," Morris said.

Groundbreaking on the new UC facility is not expected until 2014.

Other sites under consideration are Alameda Point in the city of Alameda; Berkeley Aquatic Park West, located in West Berkeley; Brooklyn Basin, located in Oakland; Emeryville/Berkeley, (includes properties currently occupied by the Lab in Emeryville and West Berkeley); and Richmond Field Station, a site currently owned by the University of California.