Antioch residents march to, speak out at Council meeting in support of event center on historic lumber yard

By Nick Goodrich

Antioch residents sporting bright yellow signs and T-shirts with the message “Save the Yard!” marched from the old Antioch Lumber Company lot to City Hall on Tuesday evening, protesting the city’s plan to allow real estate developer City Ventures to convert the empty property into condominiums.

Just two months after rezoning the lot to mixed use, which allows for a park and event center, the Antioch City Council met in a closed session on August 24th and voted 4-1 to move forward with the development of a housing complex. Their action was in spite of widespread sentiment among Antioch residents supporting the creation of an event center, and reversing previous comments by a majority of council members. With the development of new housing on the lot, the City Council hopes to attract new business to what many see as a decaying downtown area. However, citizens expressed concern that new housing in the area will attract seedier elements to Antioch’s downtown, citing Antioch’s continuing drug problem and drawing comparisons to the Geneva Towers housing development, which has since been condemned.

On a night in which the city’s development plans for the property were not on the Council meeting’s published agenda, nearly forty residents spoke in support of reversing the Council’s housing development decision. Their frustration was evident as citizens expressed concern at the City Council’s seeming dismissal of their desire to preserve one of the more scenic areas of downtown Antioch’s waterfront.

An increase in public parks and the desire to preserve the lumber yard property – the site of one of Antioch’s oldest businesses, founded just fifteen years after Antioch’s founding in 1849 – were cited as the primary goals of Save the Yard’s campaign. The group’s mission includes a plan, proposed by the Celebrate Antioch Foundation, to raise private funds for a park and event center for the lot. It has gained little traction with the City Council, however, which has expressed no desire to reconsider their plans for the property, since their vote on August 24th.

Antioch City Manager Steve Duran received a large share of the criticism, with several residents addressing comments posted on the City Hall Facebook page that seemed to call opponents of the development plan “troll blogs”. Duran, in response to outrage at the perceived lack of information on the reversal of the park and event center plan, cited the fact that the city’s consultations with real estate developers are confidential by law.

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2 Comments to “Antioch residents march to, speak out at Council meeting in support of event center on historic lumber yard”

  1. Marty Fernandez says:

    Chronicle today stated Antioch (specially) could look for far more low income and section 8 residents with the continued gentrification in Oakland. I think they are right on the money and this city council continues to play right into their hands.

  2. Carole Harrison says:

    If anyone is interested in information about the “Geneva Towers” that I mentioned in my comments to the City Council on Tuesday night, enter “Geneva Towers San Francisco” in a search on the Internet.

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