Council inks CNWS master developer deal

Council inks CNWS master developer deal

Council inks CNWS master developer deal
Concord resident Mel Bearns and Concord Communities Alliance leader Laura Nakamura lead members and supporters to city hall to present their petition opposing the CNWS master developer agreement with Seeno/Discovery prior to Oct. 26 decision. (Tamara Steiner photo)

CONCORD, CA (Nov. 11, 2021) — In a show of solidarity—despite strong community opposition—all five members of the Concord City Council locked in an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the controversial Concord-based Seeno Companies to develop the 2300-acre Concord Naval Weapons Station mixed use community at its Oct. 26 meeting.

Councilmembers Laura Hoffmeister and Carlyn Obringer joined in the vote despite their initial preference for Brookfield Property/Sunset developers of the Bishop Ranch Business Park in San Ramon.

Obringer stressed the importance of including 25% affordable housing in the final plan and wants assurance that ridgeline views will be protected.

Councilmembers Tim McGallian, Edi Birsan and Dominic Aliano supported the Concord First selection from the beginning, preferring to deal with “Main Street rather than Wall Street,” referring to the publicly traded Brookfield Properties.

Concord First is a joint venture between the family-owned Seeno Companies/Discovery Homes, Lewis Planned Communities and California Capital and Investment Company.

With a long history of environmental violations, suing and being sued, and alleged criminal activities, the Seeno family, headed by Albert D. Seeno III, is a flashpoint in local development.

Decades of litigation

Save Mount Diablo has been a consistently vocal critic of Seeno/Discovery Homes. The organization’s website chronicles decades of litigation over environmental abuses.

A lawsuit brought by Seeno/Discovery Homes to stop development of East Bay Regional Park District’s Thurgood Marshall Park on the ridgeline was settled last month.

When the company lost out to Lennar in the master developer selection process in 2016, the company sued the Navy to stop the transfer of the land to the city.

Prior to the Oct. 26 meeting, Concord Communities Alliance delivered a petition objecting to the ENA to city hall with 1800 signatures, 1000 which they say are Concord voters.

Despite their record, Councilmember Edi Birsan defends the family-run Seeno companies and insists that “no developer is without original sin.”

The council was feeling pressure to move forward with the project after the ENA with Lennar Five Point tanked last year over failure to reach agreement with the unions.

Labor agreement

A Project Labor Agreement was a non-negotiable requirement in choosing a new master developer this go-round. Public comments during the meeting were largely dominated by union members and supporters.

The city and Concord First have six months to come up with the term sheet which includes financial details and project vision.

Hoffmeister raised the possibility of not continuing with the ENA. Base reuse director Guy Bjerke warned against it.

“…I’m not sure how many people, given what happened to Lennar, would be willing to come in and participate in a process with Concord.”

It’s also possible the Navy could become impatient with the delays and sell the property directly to Seeno or some other developer, cutting the City completely out of the process.

Despite language in the ENA that will protect Concord First against an arbitrary change of direction, McGallian said the city would be “proceeding in good faith.”

“There are a lot of big circuit breakers in place.”

Documents from the Oct. 26 meeting can be found on the City’s website.