March 31, 2009

What's going on with the big, white high-rise at Newell Avenue and South Main Street?

I remember when the big, white eight-story high-rise at the corner of Newell Avenue and South Main Street was a Security Pacific National bank. In fact, I think I opened my first bank account there when I was in high school. I’ve since learned the bank was founded in 1963 by Fortney Hillman “Pete” Stark, Jr. Yes, that Pete Stark, who in 1973 became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives as the congressman for the 13th district.

In February 2008, the (now-defunct) East Bay Business Times reported that the 51,343-square-foot high-rise had been sold to a developer. There was talk that the building, which sits on 1.3 acres, would be transformed into a boutique hotel.

I’ve been told that a preliminary application regarding this high-rise has been recently submitted to the City of Walnut Creek for consideration. No boutique hotel on the horizon. Instead, the proposal would involve demolishing the high-rise, mostly because it would need major earthquake retrofitting—a very costly endeavor, my source tells me.

Under the application, the developer would replace the high-rise and an adjacent 0.62-acre adjacent parcel with a mixed-use, four-story commercial and 50-unit residential complex. My source tells me that this complex would not include the Newell Promenade, the strip that includes the former Taxi’s and the new Little Star CafĂ©.

This new complex would stretch along South Main Street "up to and including the 7-Eleven" by Las Trampas Creek. The proposed housing units would include flats and two-story homes above ground-floor retail storefronts. Parking for residents and customers would be built underground.

The developer, Alamo Essex, is a joint venture that brings together two companies, the Alamo Group and the Essex Property Trust of Palo Alto, a publicly traded real estate investment trust. The Alamo Group “successfully revitalized’ several retail projects in downtown Walnut Creek, including McCovey’s Restaurant, Maria Maria, 1515 Restaurant Lounge, and Bing Crosby’s Restaurant and Piano Lounge.


Hmm. Do I detect the hands of members of the Dudum family in this project? Jeff Dudum is the CEO of Dudum Sports and Entertainment, which launched the nostalgia-themed restaurants McCovey’s, Maria Maria, and Bing Crosby’s. 1515 Restaurant Lounge is the vision of another Dudum, Jeff’s first cousin Tony Dudum.



As mentioned above, the application to tear down the high-rise and transform it into the residential and commercial complex is preliminary. We’ll keep an eye on how the project progresses, and see what people living and working near the project have to say.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG another giant white thing looming over the neighborhood!!!

Oh, actually, this one does...it is nine stories tall.

Jojo Potato said...

I spent many an hour in 1970 (or 1969?) in Miss Johnson's french class watching that building constructed. Remember when Mr. Stark scandalized the town by putting a lighted peace sign up for Christmas one year?

"Don't remember much about the french I took...". But I can tell you in detail that buildings architecture.

Anonymous said...

The big peace sign was quite a scandal at the time. It was up there for many years (not just 1 Xmas). Even after it came down there was a stain in the form of the peace sign that was visible for a few more years.

Anonymous said...

OMG Peace Looming over the neighborhood...must stop peace, stop peace Gaaaaaahhhh!

Anonymous said...

The issue of the "peace" sign erected by Pete Stark who owned the bank and building at the time did cause quite an uproar.

Some were upset because we were in the middle of a very unsettling time during the Viet Nam War and saw it as a very political statement that was offensive to those who were serving in the military.

Others, the City included, were angry because Stark was breaking the dign ordinance pertaining to size on the building. He managed to use his power to stonewall the City and was successful in claiming it was a first amendment issue not a violation of the sign ordinance.

One wonders how this ugly 9 story building ever got approval from the city. Seems that those with power always get their way in this town. Some things never change!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who removes this blight from the downtown area will be a hero.......as long as it is replaced with something pleasing to the eye that adheres to the General Plan zoning. Is this possible in Walnut Creek?