High-Rise College Campus May Become Neighbor of Concord Calif.'s GoMentum Station

Contra Costa is the only county in the state with a population of at least 1 million that does not have a Cal State or University of California campus.

by Lisa P. White, East Bay Times / May 31, 2017
The decommissioned Concord Naval Weapons Station is now home to GoMentum Station, an autonomous vehicle testing facility. While the 110 bunkers -- which is called "Bunker City" and has a grid layout -- are currently not part of the AV proving grounds, officials are considering developing different “zones” on that grid. Painted road striping mimicking the styles used in North America, Europe and Asia would allow automakers to test how their cars would respond to the types of lines they would find in those parts of the world. Eyragon Eidam/Government Technology

(TNS) -- CONCORD, Calif. — If city leaders get their way, future residents of the sprawling housing and commercial development planned for the Concord Naval Weapons Station might hop on a driverless electric shuttle to reach a classroom in a high-rise college campus near the BART station.

During a recent study session, Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer said she wants the GoMentum station — the autonomous vehicle testing facility currently operating on the former military base — to remain a permanent part of the development.

“AVs are a part of the future and I would like to see Concord become part of the Silicon Valley of autonomous vehicles,” she said. “This is our opportunity, this is our hook to try to get that UC (University of California), that CSU (California State University), that research facility.”

Contra Costa is the only county in the state with a population of at least 1 million that does not have a Cal State or University of California campus. In 2014, Cal State University dropped plans to build a campus at the former military base after failing to reach terms with the federal government on a list of conditions the trustees had set forth.

The city is beginning discussions about attracting a public or private educational institution to the base.

At the meeting, city leaders proposed a variety of amenities for the project, including a solar farm, BMX bike park, botanical gardens, a network of bike lanes with traffic signals, bocce courts and fiber optic broadband.

The Concord Reuse Project Area Plan calls for building up to 12,200 housing units and 6.1 million square feet of commercial space on about 2,300 acres of the former military base. The East Bay Regional Park District will receive 2,600 acres for the future Concord Hills Regional Park. The Navy is scheduled to begin transferring land to the city in late 2018.

The next public workshop is 9 a.m. to noon June 17, at the Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle.

Developer Lennar-Five Point’s plans for the first 500 acres of the former military base include 4,392 housing units, 1.7 million square feet of commercial space, two community centers, a new school and 79 acres of parks and open space.

With input from the city and an 11-member community advisory committee, Lennar is working on the project specific plan which defines land uses, describes the components of private and public transportation, creates development standards, addresses natural resources and water, sewage and solid waste disposal.

“We are spending a lot of time monitoring the current thinking in land use and commercial and retail and trying to figure out how to do a specific plan that covers the next 30 years,” said Guy Bjerke, director of community reuse planning.

The firm still intends to build apartments and retail near the North Concord BART station, but has proposed shifting the first village center cluster of homes and shops closer to Willow Pass Road and the creek, which will undergo a $12 million restoration. Council members appeared to be open to this change and endorsed moving the college campus closer to BART.

But the council rejected a proposal to reduce the 275-foot to 400-foot greenway buffer that will separate the new development from the neighborhoods that abut the base, a position residents shared. Whether that space remains mostly open, incorporates bike trails or serves as an active recreational area remains up for discussion.

Challenges related to transportation, traffic and circulation persist. Although Lennar plans to widen Willow Pass Road to four lanes and rebuild Willow Pass bridge as a four-lane span, the development is likely to add thousands of vehicles to the congested roadway.

©2017 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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