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Concord Wants to Buy Coast Guard Property, Raze Vacant Housing

U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Coast Guard

CONCORD -- Rather than risk a public auction that would give Concord little control over how the property is redeveloped, city leaders favor negotiating directly with the Coast Guard to buy the vacant housing near the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

The Coast Guard is willing to sell the property to Concord for fair market value. The 58-acre tract, which city leaders believe would be ideal for a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, sits directly across East Olivera Road from Willow Pass Community Park and abuts the North Concord BART station parking lot.

During a recent meeting of the Housing and Economic Development Committee, council members Ron Leone and Carlyn Obringer recommended that the full council pursue a negotiated sale. The council likely will consider the issue in the fall.

The Navy transferred the housing to the Coast Guard in 2007. The site includes two developments, Victory Village and Quinault Village -- named after the S.S. Quinault Victory ship, which exploded in the deadly Port Chicago Naval Magazine disaster during World War II.

Built in the 1950s, Quinault Village has 41 low-rise duplexes with two- or three-bedroom apartments, a small community center and a playground. These units, which were not built to code, have asbestos and lead paint, according to the city.

Victory Village, which dates to the 1980s, includes about 82 triplexes with three- or four-bedroom units, a basketball court, horseshoe pit and playground. These buildings also do not conform to code.

Although residents frequently ask about housing people who are homeless on the property, Leone said the apartments are not habitable.

"Our expectation is they'd all need to be removed and rebuilt," said Victoria Walker, director of community and economic development.

If Concord acquires the property, it would require that 25 percent of the housing built on the site is affordable, the same standard city leaders set for the reuse project on the former naval base. The city needs to partner with a residential developer that would put up the funds to buy the property.

When the Coast Guard designated the housing as surplus property in 2014, the city invited four teams of affordable and market-rate housing developers to submit statements of qualifications for the project -- Bridge Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing developer; Integral Housing and EAH Housing; DeNova Homes and ROEM; and USA Properties, Foundation for Affordable Housing and Eden Housing. At that time, city staffers suggested that between 500 and 600 units could be built on the property.

Talks with the developers did not progress because the Coast Guard put the disposal process on hold while it studied the need for Bay Area housing for enlisted personnel.

Rather than solicit development proposals from additional firms, the committee members recommended that the council stick with the original four that indicated interest in partnering with Concord on purchasing and developing the site.

"We have four good potential partners now," Leone said. "I would say it's probably good to stay with the current process."

--This article is written by Lisa P. White from East Bay Times and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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