Bay Area’s largest housing development appears dead

By J.K. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, March 25, 2020

“In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the Concord City Council rejected legislation that would have extended the current exclusive negotiating agreement with Lennar Concord LLC, which was set to expire at the end of March. The 5,000-acre redevelopment of the mothballed military base calls for 13,000 housing units, 8 million square feet of commercial space, 2,500 acres of open space, and potentially a college campus.

“Guy Bjerke, the city’s director of community reuse planning, said in a statement, ‘Concord will comply with the terms of our existing agreements with Lennar, and we will look ahead to how we can get this project moving again once our community gets through the COVID-19 public health crisis and the city better understands the pandemic’s impact to the regional economy and the city’s finances.’

“The developers said that agreeing to an all-union job site would make the project infeasible, raising construction costs by $542 million and cutting the project’s profit margin from 17 percent to a loss.

“As part of its agreement with Lennar, the city will return unspent funds advanced by Lennar for the project.

“Lennar had agreed to a package of community benefits, including 25 percent affordable housing, that has become increasingly difficult as construction costs have soared in recent years.

“‘This project could have been an absolute lifeline, a massive jobs machine during the coronavirus crisis, when we could be looking at double-digit unemployment. It’s an absolute tragedy, said Matt Regan of the Bay Area Council, a business group.

“‘As time moved on it became clear they [Lennar] were not interested in hiring a local workforce,’ said Bill Whitney, who heads up the Contra Costa Building Trades Council.

‘They were going to flood the project with out-of-area workers at lower wages. That was appallingly negligent and we opposed that.’”

Read more here. (3 min)