Antioch Council approves Downtown Specific Plan, allowing for park, event center on former lumber yard site

The Downtown Specific Plan Alternative 1B that the Antioch City Council approved, at Tuesday night's meeting, allowing for mixed-use development or a park and event center on the empty lot between West Second, West Third and F Streets.

The Downtown Specific Plan Revised Alternative 1B that the Antioch City Council approved, at Tuesday night’s meeting, allowing for mixed-use development or a park and event center on the empty lot between West Second, West Third and E Streets.

Ogorchock moves to reduce total units per acre from 37 to 18, council agrees

By John Crowder

Following months of community meetings, the Antioch City Council selected, from a mix of six options presented, their “preferred alternative,” giving staff direction in preparing the Draft Specific Plan, the guiding document to be used in efforts to revitalize the downtown area. Their choice appeared to be a compromise, for the moment, between two competing ideas for use of the old Beede Lumber Yard property: a recommendation by city staff for high-density housing, and a request by local citizen groups for a park and event center on the site.

The selection of the preferred alternative for downtown was the last item on the agenda, and local residents who have been fighting for a park and event center on the site shown on the plan as “Opportunity Site 5” stayed until the end to make their case and see the outcome of the vote.

Discussion of the item began with City Manager Steve Duran providing background on the matter. He detailed the number of community meetings that had taken place and the amount of work that had already gone into the project by city staff and consultants. Referencing the Beede lumber site, and alluding to the citizen groups seeking a park and event center for the location, he said staff was still recommending it be used for housing, and that it was his and staff’s duty to provide their best professional advice with respect to what use would lead to the revitalization of the downtown area.

A presentation was then given showing the alternatives. According to staff, Refined Alternative #1 would “accommodate a broader range of residential product types” and provide “flexibility in housing densities to respond to future market conditions.” Refined Alternative #3 would “focus on placing a greater emphasis on concentration of commercial activities within the established Downtown Core, while also limiting residential densities surrounding the Downtown Core.” It was noted that Alternative #2 had been dropped from consideration after a previous meeting.

Within each option, three choices were then given for Opportunity Site 5, the parcel of land that had been the subject of the competing downtown visions. These ranged from Residential High Density (the consultant/staff recommendation if Alternative 1 was chosen), to Mixed-Use (which was said to allow for any combination of residential, and/or commercial, and/or park), to Residential Low Medium Density (the recommended choice for Alternative 3), to Park.

An artist's rendering of a proposed event center for downtown Antioch on the lot bordered by Second, Third and E Streets.

An artist’s rendering of a proposed event center for downtown Antioch on the lot bordered by West West Second, Third and E Streets.

Following the presentation, a few speakers came forward to advocate for the event center/park. One of them, Lee Ballesteros, told the council not to fall for the “mixed use” designation. “Please choose a park/event center for that site,” she said.

Other speakers, though, asked that the Mixed-Use designation be chosen.

Dr. Sean Wright, CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, told the council that the Mixed-Use designation would provide for the greatest flexibility. He said that, with that designation, a park could be placed on the site and, if it did not produce the desired result, it could be changed to something else.

Allen Payton, publisher of the Antioch Herald, said he supported what Wright had said. He said that he had a concern with how a park and event center would be paid for, and then advocated for changing the names of the streets leading into the downtown area.

We need to take advantage of the changes of the signs on the freeway…to promote downtown, permanently,” he said. “A and Second Streets to Rivertown Drive and L Street to Marina Way or Boulevard.”

With the conclusion of public comments, the members of the council then each expressed their views on the matter. Each of them expressed support for Alternative #1, then spoke to their views for Opportunity Site 5, the Beede lumber yard property.

Council Member Tony Tiscareno, first to speak to the matter, said, “I think this council is hearing you.”

He went on to say that he preferred the Mixed-Use designation because of the flexibility. He also said that he believed a ferry system, if developed, would bring people to the downtown area, but he did not think an event center would do so.

Council Member Mary Rocha said that there should be a set amount of time in which to develop a park, because other opportunities exist right now. “The timing is important,” she said, but also said she supported the Mixed-Use designation, but with the understanding that, at least initially, a park would be on the site.

Council Member Monica Wilson said she also supported the Mixed-Use option, as it, “leaves it open to multiple possibilities.”

Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock said, “I do have concerns with how an event center would be paid for,” but also, “I don’t like the idea of the high density.”

She said she was favoring Alternative 3 with the Mixed-Use designation for the contested Site 5. However, after further discussion, and clarification from Duran that the council could, “mix and match” between the plans, she voiced her support for Alternative 1 but with a change to Medium Density housing.

Mayor Wade Harper thanked the community for all of their input, but said, with reference to designating Site 5 a Park, “I would want to know how you’re going to pay for it.” Even so, he said, “I’m going to choose 1B, and I would like to give the community the opportunity to find out how we’re going to pay for it.”

After further discussion, a motion was finally put forward by Ogorchock to choose Alternative 1, with a Mixed-Use designation for the Beede site that would restrict the number of units to 18 per acre, but still retain the possibility of a park. The motion passed on a vote of 5-0.

Following the vote, Joy Motts, representing the Celebrate Antioch Foundation and the Rivertown Preservation Group, and one of the leading proponents for the park and event center, commented.

After a year-and-a-half battle we are hopeful,” she stated. “We are pleased that the Council has listened to the community and that they will allow us to prove to them that economic revitalization can happen in ways other than high density housing. The best use of the Beede Lumber site, as seen by most in the community, utilizes its incomparable river views, its proximity to the downtown, preserves its historical significance and creates a much needed event center and park for Rivertown and for the entire Antioch community that can host Farmer’s Markets, Festivals, Summer concerts, and more.”

It is a critical part of changing the dynamic, culture, and public perception of Antioch,” Motts added.

The next city council meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 28. Meetings are held at the City Council Chambers, 200 H Street, and typically begin at 7:00 p.m.

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the attachments to this post:


Downtown Specific Plan Attachment B


4 Comments to “Antioch Council approves Downtown Specific Plan, allowing for park, event center on former lumber yard site”

  1. karl dietzel says:

    well, nobody took a stand , or a straight up position.
    but here is my question.
    the question about the project/ park financing came up, a valid question I think, but, did anybody ask the city manager how much his project cost and where the money comes from? the promise to rebuilt the senior center from what? even the money source of a renovation of the senior center was never brought up.
    I don’t remember hearing that financing question ask to any and all new biz in antioch?
    I just hope there are no double standards in place to derail the project?

    please help me out here.

    thanks

  2. Julio says:

    There is no project. How many times have we gone through this same process for millions of dollars to have nothing happen. As soon as Duran is gone the first of the year this will all be over and that money pissed away again.

  3. Loretta Sweatt says:

    It won’t produce the income Antioch needs. The high density looked like city project housing, so I can see why it didn’t pass. Hotel
    is best idea. But that would take some work, housing developers are easy.Livermore developed a wine business to pay for their downtown.

  4. Loretta Sweatt says:

    And Lafayette put in a hotel, now famous

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