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Concord Selects Developer for Former Naval Weapons Station Site

CONCORD — The Concord city council on Saturday unanimously selected Brookfield Properties as master developer for the former Concord Naval Weapons Station project.

Development of the site has been the city’s biggest issue since the Navy abandoned it in 1999. The city wants to develop the available 2,300 acres into 13,000 units of housing and millions of square feet of commercial space.

The city has taken this step twice before without any visible progress and city leaders say you probably shouldn’t expect the land to be any help in the current housing crisis.

When they took the final vote at Saturday’s special meeting it felt like déjà vu all over again.

The council chose New York-based Brookfield Properties to create the master plan for the development. Concord mayor Laura Hoffmeister said it will be a monumental task to turn 2,300 acres of open land into tens of thousands of homes as well as schools, stores, businesses and restaurants. It’s like creating a new city from scratch.

“We’ve probaly seen 12 different proposals,” she said. “And I thought Brookfield’s was one of the stronger ones — or the strongest one — based upon looking at all of the others over time.”

This is the third time the council has picked a master developer. The first one quit and the second was dumped. Brookfield had been in the running before but last summer, after they weren’t chosen, they abruptly quit another smaller project to build homes at the nearby North Concord BART station. At the time, councilmember Edi Birsan said good riddance.

“It was no surprise to me that, after a while, since they didn’t get the Naval Weapons Station, that they would just hang out BART and just walk away and that’s exactly what they did,” Birsan said in June of 2022.

This time, Brookfield was the only developer to apply for the project so the vote was unanimous. Now, they’re crossing their fingers and hoping the third time will be the charm. But Hoffmeister warned that, even if all goes well, it will be years before anything is built. First there is planning and permitting and then comes the creation of virtually all infrastructure — roads, sewer, water pipes and power lines.

“That’s going to take another few years,” Hoffmeister said. “So, you’re really talking five to seven years down the road before you start to see any vertical construction start.”

Hoffmeister believes that’s why many developers aren’t interested in the project. It operates over such a long period of time that they may not want to wait for the payoff at the end of it.

In addition, Concord is requiring the Navy to clean up any toxic soil on the property. That will also add to the time and expense of purchasing the land from the military. As a result, Hoffmeister said, the development won’t be of much help to our current housing shortage.

“You know, housing is probably going to be an issue 40 to 50 years from now, as it was in the 70s and 80s when we had a housing crisis. So, we’re back in the cycle again and, yes, it will help us out when we get to that point,” she said.

With so many people living in tents right now, the frustration is growing over Concord’s willingness to wait. The desire to get everything just right may be preventing them from doing much at all.

Source : CBS News