North Concord BART housing in trouble as developer walks
CONCORD – The endless curse of large-scale property developments in this East Bay town falling into limbo has struck again, this time at the North Concord BART station, where a plan to replace a huge parking lot with 360 new homes seems to be dead.
Brookfield Residential – a division of multinational real estate giant Brookfield Asset Management – had negotiated with BART to cover nearly 20 acres of parking space with the new homes, a quarter of which would have been listed at affordable prices.
But three years after securing the project, Brookfield pulled out and provided no formal reason for leaving, BART officials said this week. Brookfield representatives did not respond to multiple interview requests.
“People leave for a variety of reasons and priorities change within businesses,” said BART manager Mark Foley, whose district contains the North Concord station. “I would definitely like to understand if there is anything BART did that we could avoid repeating in the future.”
The failed deal is a blow to the city’s efforts to meet California’s tough housing requirements and tackle a statewide housing crisis.
And it’s another example of Concord and other Bay Area cities’ struggle to find private developers who can support lower profit margins and produce much-needed affordable housing as the workforce labour, materials and demand increase construction costs.
Last month, the city council granted the interim master developer of the former Naval Weapons Station – East Bay’s most ambitious housing project – a long extension after the developer attempted to obtain property rights of the city before providing detailed plans for the proposed 13,000 housing project.
The council is meeting next Tuesday to discuss its future housing goals. A staff diary report incorrectly projects 776 housing units at North Concord station – most iterations of the now stalled project have planned 360 homes.
Regardless of the number, BART’s vision to transform the rarely used and often deserted North Concord station will now be on hold indefinitely. The agency has carried out housing projects in several of its stations in the region, with the help of a state law that expedites new transit-oriented housing past otherwise lengthy public processes.
The property is directly adjacent to the former Naval Weapons Station site, which faced many hurdles to even get a developer hired on board. BART had worked with city officials to develop a vision of contiguous neighborhoods where residents could easily walk to the station from their homes.
Now, Brookfield’s mysterious exit has put the project back to square one.
BART director Debora Allen said in an interview that the agency should simply suspend construction of homes on Concord property “until there is a clear direction for the naval weapons base.” .
“I don’t think it makes sense to do the BART first,” Allen said. “But we are required to (finish it) because we have a majority of board members who want to develop houses on the parking lot.”
BART initially chose a partnership between Brookfield and Walnut Creek-based developer Iman Novin to build the new homes.
Later, the relationship between Brookfield and Novin dissolved, and the two developers went on to compete over the project, with Brookfield emerging as the winner in 2019.
Novin, who previously ran for Walnut Creek City Council, then filed a contract lawsuit against Brookfieldand both sides reached an undisclosed settlement earlier this year, around the same time Brookfield announced to BART that he was leaving the subdivision. Novin’s office could not be reached for comment.
The BART project isn’t Brookfield’s only effort at Concord. The developer was not selected for the development of Naval Weapons Station last summer, when the city council voted 3-2 in favor of locally-based Concord First Partners – linked to the controversial Seeno family of developers – instead than a global society.
“That was exactly one of the problems with Brookfield,” Concord Councilman Edi Birsan said in an interview. “They’ve had this North Concord BART deal for a while and they haven’t done anything for the city with it.”
Earlier this year, amid a crisis point in the city’s relationship with Concord First, Councilman Carlyn Obringer suggested that Brookfield and another former candidate for the Naval Weapons Station project had already signed deals to hire staff. local labor and may still be available for the position.