Historic Pacheco Adobe presents big opportunity for community group

Historic Pacheco Adobe presents big opportunity for community group

A once-in-a-lifetime call from the City Council for an opportunity to rehabilitate and reuse the historical Don Fernando Pacheco Adobe caught the eye of a local nonprofit organization seeking to make a big impact in Concord.

Fernando Pacheco built the adobe in 1844 and was known for hosting great parties at the site. It is the only landmark in Concord listed on three historical registers.

The property went under county ownership in the 1940s before it was transferred to the city of Concord in 1979. The city has leased the historical site to the Contra Costa Horseman’s Association for the last four decades.

On Feb. 14, the City Council released detailed Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the rehabilitation of the building and its nearly five acres of property at 3119 Grant St. The city only received one response – from Neto Community Network, a local nonprofit dedicated to “find ways to make our communities, our democracy and our economy work better for everyone.”

After deciding on Sept. 30 that the group’s proposal did not meet all the expectations, the council Committee on Recreation, Cultural Affairs & Community Services decided to give Neto an exclusive four-month extension to revise the proposal. If the plan still does not meet the city’s requirements, the application would open up to the public again.

“We went in knowing that our proposal wasn’t as comprehensive as the city would’ve wanted, but we’re willing to go the distance,” said Lisa Fulmer, a community arts advocate and a member of the Strategy Council at Neto.

A community gathering space

Neto hopes to lease the site not only as home base for the organization and projects, but also for multiple other organizations and the community as a collaborative space that combines art and culture in social equity.

The project, Concord CoLab, launched last year as an accessible pop-up working space, business meeting space and a place to help solo entrepreneurs in Concord. They also envision the venue as an event center, a space for fostering the arts and even a place where residents can gain leadership skills in workshops.

“The opportunity to build on this is huge. How we can help certain small business take advantage of this zone is critical, but we need to have a home base,” said Kathy Renfrow, co-founder of the group and board chair.

“The adobe was the gathering place back in the day,” she added. “It was a place to build the economy and business people and make ideas. A lot came from that building. This can be a huge thing for equity in general.”

Board member Brian Beckon agrees it’s a rare opportunity for the community.

“A few others of us were inspired by the idea of doing something that brings in the community as investors and owners with an opportunity to give voice to projects, and we focused in on the idea of local ownership – another way to build capital by sharing wealth and democratizing the economy.”

Boosting post-COVID economy

Councilman Dominic Aliano is concerned about how the group will raise the funds to maintain the property.

“What I’m looking for when you come back is your financial capabilities of what you can do with renovating the building, maintaining the building, renovating the property and maintaining the property for 10 years,” he said. “You need to take COVID into consideration and take into consideration the fact that ‘Is anyone going to come and use this space?’ ”

Beckon believes Neto’s vision for fostering business collaboration could play a part in helping Concord’s post-COVID economy.

“The city’s long-term fiscal future is in jeopardy. It needs to be a vibrant city where young people see opportunity and keep the ones who grew up here to stay. Young people don’t want to stay here when they’re young and single,” he said, noting that it’s a great place to raise a family.

“We have all the basic ingredients for the most desirable city in the East Bay to live in,” Beckon added. “These are advantages that we have, but the city has not capitalized on those yet.”

Renfrow is not worried about competitors who have their eyes on the land and says she would love to instead bring them in as collaborators. Neto will form an advisory community around the project in mid-November.

“This is not a done deal. It’s just an extension to garner community support,” Fulmer said. “But if you think it’s a great idea, join us and help us make it come true.”

For more information, contact Lisa Fulmer at lisa@netocn.org.