CONCORD — The Concord Naval Weapons Station project is reaching a critical point after a long and bumpy road toward becoming one of the Bay Area’s largest developments in generations, though even a green light would still mean that the work is decades away from being completed.
Next week, the Concord City Council is set to vote on initial contract terms with a development group that includes the prominent Seeno family and Oakland developer Phil Tagami.
If council approves the term sheet — essentially a draft of a contract — at the Jan. 7 meeting, it will set the stage to begin deeper environmental review, site specific plans and negotiations with Concord First Properties, the consortium that includes the Seeno family, Tagami’s company and Lewis Management.
The special council meeting follows a quarrel earlier this year between the council and the developers. That dispute ended in the council’s rejection of the development team’s bid to acquire property rights to the former Concord Naval Weapons Station site without first disclosing details of its plan to break ground.
The highly-anticipated vote comes after years of public frustration, most recently stemming from the selection of Seeno, a family-run company that for generations has held great influence over real estate development in Contra Costa, and has become notorious in the East Bay for regularly suing public agencies and fighting environmental groups.
The term sheet before the council differs from prior negotiations with the city’s previous master developer, Lennar, in that it covers the entire project area — 2,275 acres — rather than a first phase of development, roughly 500 acres. Another notable change is that it increases the number of housing units on roughly the same area of land from 12,272 to 16,474.
The estimated completion date for the project is 40 years; it will be done in five phases. This estimate is 10 years longer than Lennar had previously proposed.
Guy Bjerke, director of economic development and base reuse for Concord, said the timeline may be shorter based on the demand of how many people want to move onto the former naval base, but the 40-year number is a comfortable estimate for the city and the development group.
Essentially, Concord is planning to build a mini-city on its northside. The development of the massive former U.S. Navy site between Highway 4 and Willow Pass Road calls for schools, more than 3,000 acres of parks and open space and thousands of square feet of retail and other commercial buildings, including a village center.
About 25% of the housing will be set aside as affordable and for people making 80% or below the area median income level, with the rent being no more than 30% of a renter’s monthly income. Sixteen acres will be used to build 130 to 260 units for unsheltered people, along with 10 acres for food bank facilities.
The term sheet also stipulates a contribution from the developers of $100 million, to be spent toward either athletic fields or a citywide park. Five million dollars of that sum is expected to be spent during phase one of the project.
An additional contribution of $65 million will go toward a community center or library. Under the terms, the developers would also work with the East Bay Regional Parks District to provide a regional trail network by connecting the Delta-DeAnza trail, which currently ends at Willow Pass Road, to the Contra Costa canal trail.
At a community meeting held in December, Jeb Elmore, vice president of acquisitions with Lewis Management, said at least 40% of the workers needed to construct the project will be hired locally.
“We’ll be seeking to promote as much employment directly from Concord as possible to continue that success and opportunity for the city of Concord and the residents and workers here and in addition, we’re seeking and looking forward to working with our trade partners to establish apprenticeship programming, job training and job fairs, to again further encourage local residents to work on the project,” Elmore said.
Lewis Management and Seeno-run Discovery Buildings each have a 45% stake in the development group, with Tagami’s California Capital & Investment Group holding a 10% stake.
The Jan. 7 hearing comes after the swearing in of newly-elected Councilmember Laura Nakamura, who defeated incumbent Tim McGallian in the November election and has been a prominent critic of the Seeno-led development group.
In an interview, Nakamura said the development team’s presentations in December, which more than 100 residents attended, “were long on marketing and short on substantive discussion.”
“Concord residents and public process need to be prioritized, and that didn’t seem to be the tenor of the two presentations with respect to those requirements and key questions posed by the public.” she said.
The proposed term sheet will go before the City Council at 9 a.m. Jan. 7 at the Concord Senior Center, located at 2727 Parkside Circle. It will be shown on Concord TV (Astound/Wave 1026, Comcast 28, AT&T U-verse 99) and streamed online through the City’s website at cityofconcord.org.