Victor Flores

Victor Flores

Concord Reuse Project Delayed Again, Council Drops Master Developer

Originally published on December 22, 2022, and updated on February 1st, 2023, to reflect recent developments.

After hours of public comments and two special City Council meetings, the City of Concord decided to reject the term sheet for the Concord Reuse Project, formerly known as the Concord Naval Weapons Station, in a 3-2 vote. With this decision, Concord will let the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) expire and part ways—at least for now—with current master developer Concord First Partners, which includes controversial Seeno’s Discovery Companies. Concord First Partners was first selected in August 2021.

 

The Concord Naval Weapons Station development is prolonged yet again. On January 7, the Concord City Council listened to the comments of concerned citizens, agencies, and other stakeholders during a special 9-hour public comment session, for which Greenbelt Alliance provided a public comment and requested amendments to the term sheet. Then, on January 28, the City Council continued to deliberate on the Concord Naval Weapon Station Reuse project. With Albert Seeno III’s legal issues surfacing and disputes within the family that leads the company, the Council expressed concern about the financial security for completing the project. Also, many council members were critical of the lack of truly affordable housing set forth in the term sheet.

Greenbelt Alliance initially advocated for 25% of the development to be dedicated to affordable housing, which the developers reduced to 19% and attempted to compensate for the difference by building Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs). But these are not the same: As JADUs are part of another property (e.g. townhome), there is no way to mandate that the owner rent them out rather than using them for personal use.

As we and our Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord partners noted, there is no way to guarantee that these units would remain on the market. We asked the developer to amend this component to ensure a total of 25% of units would be on the market for people in need. As a result of our request, the Council voted in favor of not accepting the term sheet and directed staff to let the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) expire. According to the East Bay Times, this setback might prolong, again, this development that has been over two decades in the making.

While we understand the importance of beginning development as soon as possible, we need to ensure it’s built with the people in the East Bay in mind. We need to emphasize the importance of equitable and affordable housing for generations to come to address the Bay Area’s housing crisis.

We are proud that the Concord City Council fought to provide affordable housing during an unprecedented housing crisis. This project may be delayed for a few months longer but we are optimistic that it will ultimately lead to a more equitable project that meets the needs of Concord and greater East Bay communities. We look forward to working with the council members and other stakeholders to make this project a reality.

Why This Is Important?

The master developer, Concord First Partners, released in December 2022 an important document called the term sheet, the next step in the planning for the development of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station and known as the Concord Reuse Project. This document establishes the development guidelines and community benefits to be included in the future Specific Plan and studied in the Environmental Impact Report.

Since the Concord Naval Weapons Station closed in 2005, Greenbelt Alliance has worked to protect those 2,200 acres—an area double the size of Golden Gate Park— from sprawl while encouraging climate-smart housing development and preservation of open space. We, along with several partners, including East Bay Housing Organizations, the Central Labor Council of Contra Costa CountySave Mount Diablo, and Monument Impact, make up the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord and are committed to the best possible outcome for this site.

This is a crucial project to help alleviate the crippling housing crisis in the Bay Area. The Concord Reuse Project is slated to deliver over 12,000 homes, including 25% affordable, which is significant when considering that the latest RHNA allocations mandate that Concord plan to accommodate over 2,000 units of low and very low-income housing. It will also boost the region’s overall climate resilience by adopting strategies to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. It is located right next to the North Concord BART station and offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to locate thousands of new homes in a climate-resilient, transit-oriented location.  

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