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December 10, 2009

How do you think this looks? The Village @ 1500 Newell project

Here's one view of the proposed Village @ 1500 Newell, a new four-story, 39,946-square-foot, mixed-use development proposed for the corner of Newell Avenue and South Main Street. It will include 49 condominium units--some flats, some townhomes, and some affordable--and shops on the ground floor, and two levels of underground parking.

Notably, it will feature a "pedestrian promenade" along Las Trampas Creek (the view you're seeing here), and the developer will improve the Main Street bridge pedestrian crossing. For creating this "Creek Walk," which qualifies as a new park area, and bridge improvements, the developer, Essex Trust, will get out of paying $200,000 in fees.

This project will replace that big, white, eight-story office building (that was once decorated with a peace sign), and, sigh, that lovely retail building with the 7-Eleven.

The Planning Commission is going to talk about this project at its meeting tonight at 7 p.m. You can read more about it in the Community Development Department's staff report.

14 comments:

Jojo Potato said...

I have some fondness for that ugly white building. I watched it being built from room 601 at Las Lomas while I should have been paying attention to French class. Ah well, all must change. That creek is simply a concrete ditch, don't see the picturesque beauty in that, but then I don't write real estate brochures.

Up3rd (and occasionally the alter-ego known as Chris Hendricks) said...

Generally this looks like a nice upgrade-- though the view of the homeless encampments should be radically improved when the new pedestrian walkway is completed and that might not necessarily be for the better.

Anonymous said...

When we moved here in
'69 my dad called the ugly white building 'the pinko building' cuz it had a large peace sign at the top of its west face. He said the building was owned by Pete Stark. I would love to see it demolished. The new plans look beautiful.

Anonymous said...

9:05 am

your Dad was correct.....it was the pinko building because of the large peace sign that Pete Stark hung up there to protest the Viet Nam war. It was the headquarters for his Security Bank from which he made his millions. He violated city code by hanging it and claimed it was "art" and that it's removal would be a violation of his free speech! It stayed there for many years, with the city closing it's eyes to code violations and even after it was finally taken down you could see the imprint it left on the building.

That building should never have been built there because of it's height. It was the first of many developments in Walnut Creek to receive favorable zoning changes by a city council who was anxious to encourage well-known developers to settle in Walnut Creek. The proper place for a building of that size was up by the BART station which of course was just in the planning stages when it was built. The tall buildings in the "Golden Triangle" made sense and certainly did not mar the skyline that the Stark building did for all these years. Good riddance!!!

The current plans certainly look pleasant and I do hope that adequate traffic considerations have been instilled in the plan. Also wide sidewalks would be great to lessen the "canyon" effect that has taken place in most other recent downtown developments. As to the "Creek Walk", okay, but don't think it is the most pressing issue in our town at this time. Taking funds away from the Parks system seems silly right now since all of the budget cuts that have reduced maintainence and capital improvements to our currents parks.

I have no doubt that the passage of the plans will be a slam dunk at the Planning Commission tonight and if any more variances are needed they will be granted without too much discussion.

I guess all in all, anything that happens to that corner would be an improvement but I hope that the city doesn't let it's tax greed get in the way off sensible planning, yet again.

Anonymous said...

Haven't read anything about the Oak tree that had been slated for removal for this project. Perhaps the city came up with a plan that would save this magnificent oak?

Anonymous said...

There is no creekside to overlook here - just a concrete culvert.
Hopefully some landscaping will be done to restore the beauty of the natural creek.
(Also the new exit onto Newell could make that junction really dangerous)

Anonymous said...

The nearby Parkmead neighborhood has been involved in reviewing this project thru 2 Planning and 2 Design Review Commission public study sessions over several months with traffic impacts as a main concern. The city is convinced there will be less traffic than now from the 7-11 but has still agreed to consider some traffic mitigations for the neighborhood. It will be nice to see the high rise go in my opinion and hopefully the new development will not impact traffic too much. In addition the developer has made several modifications to enhance pedestrian/bike and creek access.

The next step will be what happens to Newell Promenade strip mall next door (where Taxis was) where there is more frontage to the creek. The current owners have been at the study sessions with proposed plans in hand but not yet submitted to the city

Anonymous said...

It is always amusing to hear that people are concerned about traffic. In this case it would be a miracle if this site generated any traffic compared with the building that was already there, Broadway Plaza, Kaiser Hospital and the nearby High School. The people who live here will be able to walk to Whole Foods, Pacific Bay Coffee, Trader Joe's, and Broadway Plaza. Win Win! I think people bring up traffic when they are out of things to say...they got nothing!

creekside resident said...

I'm all in favor of extending the downtown southward, however it will be sad to see the tower gone. I remember doing 'science' experiments on the roof up there, learning how gravity relates to the mass of watermelons and the force generated by them smashing vehicles below. I'll also miss the comforting concrete walls that made the acoustics just right for doings poofs.

Anonymous said...

With all the foreclosure, short sales and reduced-price regular sales in the Walnut Creek area -- plus all the rentals by condo owners who would try selling if only the market weren't so topsy-turvy right now, why in the world is someone building MORE CONDOS anywhere in the Bay Area? I don't get it.

And on top of that, there's the upcoming transit village at the Pleasant Hill BART station. I'm excited by the prospect of some shopping there, but as a condo owner, I have to say I'm not too thrilled that more housing inventory is going in there (though I understand it'll be just apartments at first, with the condos' launch pushed back a few yrs, due to the housing market).

Anonymous said...

4:06 pm -

It would be interesting if you identified which part of Walnut Creek you live in and told us your commute patterns.....then we could ascertain just why you find it amusing when people bring up traffic concerns.

People who live in South WC, Walnut Heights and Parkmead have very genuine concerns about traffic because many times we must go through downtown to get to where we need to go. With the growth of the downtown area within the past ten years, traffic has become more of a problem and future growth will only add to these problems.

Get ready for a miracle..... as the old bank building that will be torn down has been mostly vacant the past ten years, obviously the mix of retail and living units will add to the tremendous traffic congestion that exists today.

I think the demolition of the current building is one of the greatest things to ever happen in downtown Walnut Creek, but we must be cautious about unrestricted growth in that area of town.

Jonesified said...

Yes, that should help improve the area. However, Crazy in Suburbia, I thought you would like it because it old, like the Dome Theater.

Elizabeth said...

I just love how Walnut Creek sees an older building that just doesn't look like it fits in anymore, and BAM, its outta here :) I'm not saying it in a sarcastic way either, I'm very visual, and through the years living here, I'll look at an aging building that just doesn't seem to fit in, and then I read how it will be soon torn down. I love it! That white building is UGLY and it will be a vast improvement!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great plan. Hope they do highlight the creek/culvert.

I'm in Walnut Heights and I don't have any traffic concerns with a growing downtown. A growing / improving downtown has done nothing but improve my quality of life in this area. Yes, I was here in the days when it was very quite when walking around downtown on a Sunday.