Concord sites swing back to housing plans

Declaration as “surplus land” means at least 15 percent of units must be affordable

Veterans Accession House's Leonard Ramirez with 1765 Galindo Street and the Mt. Diablo Street parcel bordered by Galindo, Oak and Laguna street (Veterans Accession House, Google Maps)
Veterans Accession House's Leonard Ramirez with 1765 Galindo Street and the Mt. Diablo Street parcel bordered by Galindo, Oak and Laguna street (Veterans Accession House, Google Maps)

A pair of vacant chunks of land that have gone from plans for a market-rate residential development to a professional soccer stadium in Concord have swung back to housing––but this time with a goal of hundreds of affordable units in the East Bay city.

Officials of the City of Concord plan to find a developer to begin construction later this year on the sites, which combine for nearly eight acres of land. The sites were declared surplus land by the city after the latest development proposal fell through, providing a designation that by law gives affordable housing developers priority to enter into negotiations with the city.

The parcels also must go through a so-called “surplus land process” that is mandated by the State of California and requires local authorities to aim for 25 percent of any project to be set aside for housing deemed affordable, with a floor of 15 percent, depending on negotiations.

Affordable housing is deemed to be units with the budgets of households making 80 percent of the median income in the area–about $74,000 annually.

‘The process of the state declaration is expected to take about two months.

The two parcels are separated by Mt. Diablo Street in Concord, neary the Concord BART station. The acreage is bordered by Galindo, Oak and Laguna streets. Hall Street Equities was under contract to develop the site into an 18,000-seat soccer stadium, but that project fell out in 2020, when United Soccer League owner and East Bay real estate developer Mark Hall withdrew from an exclusive negotiation agreement with the city amid the pandemic and some opposition from residents of the area.

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Hall’s effort came after the Concord City Council canceled a development agreement with AvalonBay Communities for the construction of 310 market-rate apartments on the Galindo Street parcel. The deal fell apart over pressures for affordable units and AvalonBay’s inability to reach an agreement over the use of union labor.

Once the state certifies the parcels as surplus, the city must give affordable housing developers 60 days to respond to a notice of availability, and provide another 90 days for any negotiations.

The city intends to solicit interest from dozens of developers, including nonprofits that specialize in affordable housing.

Veterans Accension House, based in the Bay Area municipality of Pittsburg, has had its eyes on the sites for over a year and are preparing to make a bid when the parcels become available. A representative of the non-profit organization said he expects each parcel to sell for somewhere between $1.5 and-$2.5 million, with the two sites combined sufficient to provide hundreds of units for homeless veterans.

“We’re looking to help out homeless veterans and those locations would be perfect for transportation and commerce,” said Leonard Ramirez, executive director of Veterans Accession House.

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