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Walnut Creek Magazine

On the Horizon - Happenings, Announcements and Things to Know

Mar 26, 2016 10:58AM ● By Brian O


Port of Oakland welcomes giant cargo ships

It’s a new day on the waters of the San Francisco Bay. Millions of dollars later, the Port of Oakland has significantly dredged the bottom of the Bay to receive the biggest cargo ships in the world, like the 1,310-foot-long CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin that was here in February. Big Ben is capable of carrying up to 18,000 shipping containers and expected to be a regular visitor to Oakland, hauling cargo between the West Coast and Asia. The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin is the largest cargo ship to ever visit the United States. For details on public tours of the port, go to 


 Award-winning Shadowbrook breaking ground on new winery and tasting room

Proprietor Tim Jochner is putting Walnut Creek back on the map as a distinguished wine-growing region. For the eleventh consecutive year, Shadowbrook took home gold and silver medals from the San Francisco Wine Competition beating out competitors in Napa and Sonoma for its 2013 Cabernet and Pinot Noir. Adding to the excitement is the news that Shadowbrook has begun digging its new winery and tasting room on Northgate Road. Established in 2005 by Tim and his wife Courtney Jochner, Shadowbrook is the first winery in Walnut Creek since Prohibition. They also produce Contra Costa County's only California Olive Oil Council certified extra virgin olive oil. Visit for more information. 


 In February, the Walnut Creek City Council awarded $4,108,000 to Arntz Builders for the Larkey Park Swim Center Improvements Project. As part of the deal, the city’s celebrated synchronized swim team, the Walnut Creek Aquanuts, agreed to raise $200,000 towards to the cost of the project for deepening of the pool to hold practices and performances. The Larkey pool project is slated for completion in spring 2017. For details, go to


 If you’re one of Walnut Creek’s downtown dwellers, we have good news for you. The home furnishing giant, Z Gallery, is returning to town with its eclectic mix of mod and traditional décor. Look for the new store on Locust Street after Anthropologie moves to Main Street. Right next door, Mt. Diablo’s iconic service center, Walnut Creek Automotive announced plans to relocate to Pleasant Hill. Need a new place to get polished? Lafayette’s upscale men’s salon, 1818, opened on Botelho Drive, near Men’s Wearhouse and Atlas. Over on Cypress Street, Renew Cryotherapy is treating clients for pain and inflammation with its invigorating cold technology. Impulse Room, a new jazz club featuring live music, is opening this summer on Lincoln Avenue. Got buzz? Send it to us: [email protected]


Will the downtown become a victim of its own success?

 After several hundred new residential units in the downtown core were approved with conditional use permits, essentially changing the downtown footprint, the Walnut Creek City Council decided it was time for other communities in the East Bay to help house the tri-valley’s growing population. In January, the council voted to remove the conditional use permit provision from the General Plan, requiring city council approval and an amendment to the General Plan, for future zoning changes from commercial to residential in certain areas of the city. 

According to Senior City Planner Andy Smith, “the new Commercial Land Preservation Ordinance eliminates the ability to build multi-family developments in commercial zones with the use of a conditional use permit.” Quality of life, lighting, setbacks, shadows, views and developer fees for future impacts all played a role in this decision. 

Back Story 

How did conditional use permits end up in the city’s General Plan? It dates back to 1989 and a time when housing was not being developed downtown, yet the city’s General Plan specified residential housing downtown. “It was our hope that by adding the conditional use permit to the General Plan as a provision, we would attract downtown residential development and create a walkable environment with easy access to BART,” explains Walnut Creek’s Community Development Director Sandra Meyer. “It wasn’t until 2010, that the commercial real estate market, and financial institutions, started showing interest in downtown residential projects.  Before then, we couldn’t beg for housing downtown,” says Meyer. “Since that time, we have seen dramatic changes downtown and an abundance of new housing, so we asked the council to remove the provision from the General Plan,” says Meyer. More information on Walnut Creek’s General Plan and zoning can be found on the city’s website


Downtown pizza boom, a new barbecue joint, and two hamburger havens 

 Pizza superstar Tony Gemignani is opening his first East Bay café on the ground floor of 1500 Mt. Diablo. Slice House starts dishing slices in April. With the sudden closure of Project Pie, the Capitola classic Pizza My Heart, grabbed the ready-made parlor for creating their award-winning pies. Anytime now, California Pizza Kitchen will relocate its Broadway Plaza restaurant to the new Agora community on S. Main Street. And Take One Pizza is bringing their build-your-own pie concept to Olympia Place. 

Southern charm comes to Locust Street when Sauced opens in the former Pyramid Brewery. The authentic barbecue house is expected to open in late summer dishing up spare ribs, brisket and peanut butter pie. 

In a new partnership with Sacramento restauranteur Chris Jarosz, the Hubcaps team kicks it up a notch remerging in late April as Broderick Roadhouse, a Wild West burger emporium. Down the street all eyes are on the opening of the iconic Gott’s Roadside opening in the former Fresh Choice.

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