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Concord Developer Hopes to Renovate Unused Former Military Housing

CONCORD – Almost an entire neighborhood’s worth of housing has been left unrenovated and unused in Concord, but the new owner of the property hopes to change that as soon as next year. 

It’s the latest application of the builder’s remedy and state law designed to accelerate new housing, this time being used on about 300 houses that were once part of the Concord Naval Weapons Station

The homes have been sitting empty since 2014. The new owner of the property wants to fast-track the refurbishing of that housing, and start putting people inside as soon as possible. Because Concord is not in compliance with state demands for new housing, the application can be sent without issue.

“This is a single property,” explained attorney Bryan Wenter. “It’s about 59 1/2 acres. There’s two different villages containing existing former military housing. To the north is Quinalt village. We are standing at the southern entrance to Victory Village. This used to be officer housing for the Navy, and for the Coast Guard. 20% of these units. That’s 58 units. 20% in each village will be affordable.”

Wenter is an attorney representing the developers, who purchased this property at federal auction in 2021. And since then, there has developed something of a disagreement over what to do with it. The city of Concord has said it would like to see some plans for something larger, with the construction of new, higher-density housing. Developers say that’s on the table, but they’d also like to make use of the existing housing in the near term, which is where they hope that builder

“With the builder’s remedy, we can obtain building permits here within approximately the next 60 days,” Wenter said. “Without the builder’s remedy that the project is subject to the open ended discretionary approvals, CEQA, public hearings, public process, all the time and uncertainty.”

The application may be a first-of-its-kind use of the tool.

“In every other context the builder’s remedy is being used to develop new housing that doesn’t presently exist,” Wenter explained. “In this case, the builder’s remedy would allow the re-occupancy of these units.”

“Definitely the quickest potential builders remedy project,” said Sonja Trauss, Executive Director of YIMBY Law. “And in a way, you know, I mean the buildings are already there.”

Trauss says she’d love to see new housing here, on a grand scale, but is unsure about the timeline of the project.

“So you know, maybe it would only take five years,” Trauss said of the timelines. “But based on my experience this kind of thing can take a decade or more so it’s important to have housing now.”

“Something now should absolutely happen.” Wenter added. “it can happen with cooperation with the law, and with a desire to work with us, other developments can happen in the future. These are not mutually exclusive.”

KPIX reached out to several offices in the city of Concord, but did not immediately get a response. The city is still trying to put together a plan for the 5,000 acres of land beyond the homes, and is currently looking to secure a third developer for the former Naval Weapons Station project. 

Source : CBS News