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Walnut Creek Magazine

On the Horizon: New Residential Development Downtown

Apr 06, 2021 04:08PM ● By Harper Klein

Walnut Creek has many draws: a walkable downtown with a BART station, beautiful parks and open spaces to roam, top-rated public schools, a regional arts center for entertainment, and an evolving mix of shops and restaurants. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the city continues to attract developers interested in purchasing outdated properties and turning them into modern mixed-use housing projects.

Beyond that, if you’re following discussions surrounding the housing crisis, you’re probably aware that the Association of Bay AreaGovernments (ABAG) is in the process of finalizing the Regional HousingNeeds Allocation (RHNA) methodology for the San Francisco Bay Area. And like other cities, Walnut Creek is required by state law to plan and build housing in the 2023-2031 cycle that meets the needs of current and future residents at all income levels—very low, lower, moderate, and above moderate.

Based on the February 2021 draft currently under review, Walnut Creek’s additional housing allocation exceeds 5800 units, a number considerably higher than anticipated, but in line with other Bay Area cities and counties.

As you can see from these numbers, by the end of 2031, thousands of new apartments, condos, and townhomes will be built here as local zoning changes are made to accommodate RHNA quotas and house the Bay Area's growing population. While Walnut Creek is months away from a final state housing development quota, the housing crisis is nothing new and continues to shape city planning and policy.

Here are four new residential projects in the works. 

Originally acquired to develop into a 100-room Hilton hotel, Hall Equities Group sold its property at 699 Ygnacio Valley Road, on the corner of North Civic Drive to Resources for Community Development (RCD), a Berkeley-based affordable housing developer best known for building St. Paul Commons, Riviera Apartments, and Villa Vasconcellos in Walnut Creek.

Funding for the $68 million five-story 96-unit 100% affordable housing project comes from multiple sources including a $6 million loan from the City of Walnut Creek. Once a gas station, the site has been environmentally cleaned up and cleared for mixed residential-commercial development, according to a city staff report.

With the sale of 1271 California Boulevard—the vacant KFC property—to residential developer DeNova Homes, Hall Equities Group closed the door on Centre Place South, a luxury mixed-use residential project adjacent to Charles Schwab and Habit Burger. City planners expect a proposal from DeNova for townhomes on the site, which requires a zoning change from commercial to residential use.

In the meantime, the mobile miniature golf course, Putters, is expected to relocate from Cypress Street to the KFC parking lot. 

Two years after Align Real Estate announced plans to build 42 condominiums above 24,000-square-feet of commercial space at 1532 and 1556 Mt. Diablo Boulevard—the vacant WC Automotive building and parking lot adjacent to Slice House—the project is moving forward. A rooftop bar, restaurant, and public garden will connect the buildings and two levels of underground parking will offer residents and guests access to 24/7 valet-only service. Align is currently constructing the six-story 90-unit apartment/hotel at 1380 N. California Boulevard on the former McDonald's site.

On the corner of North California Boulevard and Bonanza Street, a 27-unit condominium mixed-use project was approved in late 2020. The four-story building at 1501 N. California Boulevard will include 6,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space and underground parking. Current tenants on the .42/acre parcel, owned by Sylvia & Jack Dudum, include The King’s Jewelers and Relax the Back. State law allows property owners to bypass Measure A height and density limits if 10% of the project is affordable housing. (Rendering of 1501 N. California by LCA Architects below.)


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