CONCORD, CA (Mar. 26, 2023) — Learning from past mistakes. Regaining the public trust. And, perhaps most importantly, avoiding that third strike.
That’s what the City Council hopes to accomplish as they select a new master developer for the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.
To that end, Guy Bjerke, director of development and base reuse, obtained preliminary feedback from the council on March 14 in order to refine the questions they will ask perspective developers.
“What is important in this third attempt is that we find a consensus both on the dais amongst the council and amongst the broader community. That we not only have consensus but that we have some unanimity on how we’re moving forward – some level of trust with whom we’re moving forward with,” Bjerke said.
This effort comes after the city ended negotiations with Lennar/FivePoint in 2020 and parted ways with Concord First Partners (CFP) this January. Many in the community were angry that the council even considered the proposal from CFP, which included unpopular local developer Seeno.
“It was really taking advantage of the public trust to select a developer that everyone knew was not going to go over well. It’s made the public very hyper-sensitive and very hyper-aware,” 20-year resident Cora Mitchell said during public comment. “Do not disregard the power of the people in this process. They are ready. They are organized. And they are engaged.”
Members of the council were unanimous in stating they wanted any new proposal to include a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) – and that the plan should be made public. They also agreed to require the new master developer to keep the council apprised of pending legal action.
There was general council support for studying an increase in units to make the project economically feasible, including looking at Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). And they went along with Councilmember Carlyn Obringer’s suggestions to ask developers about the proposed campus district and how they would work with the GoMentum autonomous vehicle testing site.
Bjerke said there has been interest from several developers, including Lendlease and past applicants Brookfield, City Ventures, Shea – now in a consortium with Signature and SummerHill, and Lewis – formerly with Concord First Partners.
Using the council’s input, Bjerke will conduct additional research with developers, stakeholders and community groups. He expects to bring a proposed hybrid Request for Qualifications (RFQ) timeline to the council in late April or early May.
Bev Britton graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of North Dakota and moved to the Bay Area with her soon-to-be husband Jim in 1986. She was features editor at the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek before becoming managing editor of the Contra Costa Sun in Lafayette in 1995. She retired from newsrooms in 2001, but an ad for the Clayton Pioneer drew her back in. The family moved to Lake Wildwood in the Gold Country a few years ago - but working at the Pioneer keeps her in touch with her old neighborhoods in Concord and Clayton.