On The Horizon
Mar 24, 2017 02:32PM
By Cale Finta
ON THE HORIZON
Happenings, Announcements and Things to Know About
It’s no minor fete to develop commercial/residential projects in Walnut Creek. From start to finish—including approvals, permitting and actual construction—the process takes close to three years. And it’s expensive. Yet, Walnut Creek continues to be a hot spot for developers who are targeting the Bay Area housing shortage and building apartments and condos at a record pace.
According to a report released by Jeff Weil, executive vice president at Colliers International, “the Bay Area has added 531,000 jobs in recent years, but only a fraction of this number in new housing units. In some cities, just the permits and fees can cost $100,000 or more per unit, and it can take years to get approvals. The suburbs don't want 60-story, high-density housing next to public transportation, so our housing imbalance is here to stay.” With Walnut Creek rents on average $2500 per month for a one bedroom apartment and over $3500 per month for a two bedroom, the challenge for the future is how to build housing that’s affordable.
Newell Avenue Promenade
Suburban-style strip malls from the 80s may soon be a thing of the past in the increasingly dense, pedestrian-minded Walnut Creek. While a formal application has not yet been submitted, a multi-use complex with 100+ apartment units and 142,000-square-feet of ground floor retail is slated to replace the existing shopping center on Newell Avenue adjacent to Trader Joe’s. Initial plans call for building height comparable to Kaiser across the street and the Agora next door, as well as a pathway for walking along the creek and public gathering areas. Feedback on the project from community members and city officials suggests a strong desire for the developer to reduce mass and density and create a natural pathway connecting Main Street to California Boulevard. More to come…stay tuned.
Bay Rock Luxury Residences
At 2211 North Main Street, The Richmond Group has an apartment complex in the works. Once home to La Virage restaurant, the vacant lot is under city review for construction of a new five-story, 52-unit multifamily apartment building with underground, onsite garage.
Another project in the works, led by Walnut Creek-based LCA Architects, is a five story mixed-used design on the vacant parking lot between Walnut Creek Ford and J. Rockliff Realtors. Part of the North Main/Ygnacio Valley specific plan, which calls for development of mixed-use residential buildings, including apartments, condos and town homes on the 30-acres extending from Civic Drive to Ygnacio Valley Road, the 1716 Main Street project includes 42 apartments and over 2,500-square-feet of ground floor retail with parking. Currently under review, if approved, it will join other new apartment housing in the area including the Arroyo and the Ascent as well as the Landing (178 units) to the south and the Bart Transit Village (596 units). Proposed amenities at 1716 Lofts include a rooftop Jacuzzi, sun beds, a barbecue area and an outdoor TV.
PARKS AND PLAZAS
If you like the new parklets popping up downtown, more outdoor gathering spaces are coming your way. As part an effort to expand cultural attractions, the LESHER CENTER FOR THE ARTS plans to increase the size of its existing outdoor plaza by 2,000-square-feet. WALNUT CREEK DOWNTOWN is working on a mini-plaza—at the corner of Main and Cypress Streets—creating an area for the community to gather, eat and socialize. New hardscape, seating areas and landscaping are on the way.
F & M BANK
What once was a go-to nursery store owned by Target will soon become the regional offices for FM Bank. Demolition is expected to begin on the vacant Target Garden Center, and construction of a new, 5,700-square-foot free standing bank with drive-up ATM and customer parking will take its place. If the architecture looks familiar, it is: the same firm designed Neiman Marcus.
WHAT’S IN STORE
Marking its third move, ATLAS & ATHENA returned to Main Street combining men’s, women’s and home goods in the new store. Before the dust even settled, SCOUT & MOLLY’S BOUTIQUE signed a 10 year lease in the former Atlas space on Botelho. Sad news for treasure hunters, TUESDAY MORNING lost its lease with no word of a new location in town. Everybody’s excited about AMAZON BOOKS coming to Broadway Plaza, bringing with it a café and big space for reading. And speaking of coffee, San Francisco favorite PHILZ is opening next to Genova Deli on California.
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