Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Walnut Creek Considers Transit Village

By Kathleen Richards
Tue, Jan 8, 2008 at 3:51 PM

Developers of a proposed transit village at the Walnut Creek BART station will unveil their latest proposal at a meeting tonight, the Contra Costa Times reports. The proposal - which would add about 1,000 residents to downtown - includes about 600 apartments and 50,000 square feet of commercial space, 100 additional parking spaces for BART patrons as well as parking for residents. Also included would be businesses such as a café, newsstand, grocery store, drycleaner, and gym. Advocates say the development would add much-needed affordable housing to the area, as well as reduce traffic for commuters. Opponents worry about how the up-to-four-stories-high development would affect the view of Mount Diablo, and how extra residents would increase congestion downtown.

As the Express previously reported, transit villages aren't a slam dunk for mixed-use development. Finding tenants for office and retail space has been difficult at Fruitvale Village in Oakland, and BART patrons haven't been wooed by businesses there - though, admittedly, Walnut Creek's a far cry from Fruitvale.

Nevertheless, the WC city council tonight will hear feedback from representatives of each city commission, and is also asking the public to weigh in on the proposal, though this will hardly be their last opportunity to do so. Since the city council last looked at the proposal in June 2006 and gave input, the developers have redesigned traffic circulation and included a pedestrian and bicycle crossing over Ygnacio Valley Road. If the council decides to move ahead with the plan, an environmental review would begin in the next few months.

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