Antioch group proposes downtown event center instead of mixed-use project

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 Second, Third and E Streets.

By John Crowder

Over the last few months, Antioch residents supporting a proposal to convert the old Beede lumber yard property bordered by Second, Third and E Streets, a roughly two-acre parcel that has been vacant for years, into a permanent outdoor event center, have been speaking out at city council meetings, asking for a hearing on their proposal. The January 13 meeting of the Antioch City Council was no exception, as Joy Motts, one of the leaders in the effort, once again pleaded their case to council members.

In her statement, Motts lamented the lack of response from city staff to their repeated requests for a discussion of the idea. She began by outlining the now two-year history of requests for consideration put forward by her and other community members.

Over two years ago Sean Wright, Kerry Motts, myself and a few Rivertown developers came together to discuss plans for an event center for downtown Antioch on the vacant Beede lumber site property at the corner of 2nd and E Street,” she said. She went on to say that her group had been asked to postpone moving forward by the former city manager, Jim Jakel, in order that the “full attention of the council” could be given to the passage of Measure C during the November, 2013 election, and that they had agreed to do so.

Motts related that in early 2014, her group had been excited to meet with the new city manager, Steve Duran, but were disheartened to learn that, “Mr. Duran has had no interest in our proposal, or in listening to the community as to their wishes for downtown and went forward with a plan for multi-unit properties on the site we believe is the natural, and most economical, place to create a downtown community event center…just like every community around us has or is in the process of creating.”

She went on to say that the plan Duran had conceived was only slowed through, “numerous citizens’ requests.”

Motts said that, the past seven months had seen, “dozens of speakers at council meetings, over 1,000 signatures…asking for this topic to be [placed on the city council agenda] for discussion, and yet here we are, January 2015, and we have received absolutely no response from you or your staff.” Motts concluded by listing several of the groups in support of the event center proposal, including Rivertown residents, the Rivertown Preservation Society, and the Celebrate Antioch Foundation.

Following the meeting, Motts stated, “The community and Rivertown residents deserve a chance to discuss with the City the economic vitality and permanent legacy an event center would bring to Rivertown in contrast to the multi-unit development that is currently proposed.”

When Duran was asked about the delay in bringing the idea before the city council, he provided the following comments via email to Herald staff:

The City Council approved a Request for Qualifications and Proposals (RFQ/P) process that is looking for residential development on that site based on extensive studies over the years and on my recommendation. Staff is currently carrying out that process, and has advised all along that it would take months before we would come back to the City Council with recommendations, as noted in my Monthly Report (See the City web site). Staff is in discussions with a number of qualified developers and will be for several more weeks.

The Beede site is zoned for residential development and has been since at least as far back as the last General Plan update in 2003. General Plans, of course, go through an extensive public process, including Environmental Impact Reports, and are approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. In addition, there have been a number of studies done by the City over the years, the most recent and promising of which is the 2006 ‘Arcadis’ plan, called ‘Antioch Rivertown Waterfront Development.’ Like all the preceding plans, the Beede site was designated to be predominantly residential.

The ideas that Ms. Motts has brought forth have been listened to and heard over the years and I have certainly done the same. Staff has reviewed the proposal her group presented and, when we have finished considering all the ideas and proposals we are exploring, staff will be making a complete report with our recommendations to the City Council.

It’s the staff’s job to analyze and make recommendations to the Council, aided as necessary with additional professional expertise. It would not be fair for any contender for the development of that site, or any City-owned site, to end run the process the City Council directed or to have the City Council consider one idea in isolation with no input from myself, our staff or our consultants that have extensive experience in real estate, redevelopment and downtown revitalization. All ideas and/or proposals, and the developers, need to be scrutinized by staff and consultants so that the Council can make a well informed decision.”

Duran also provided the following links for reference:

General Plan:

Arcadis study:

the attachments to this post:

Downtown event center rendering

5 Comments to “Antioch group proposes downtown event center instead of mixed-use project”

  1. Wayne says:

    It sure sounds like Mr. Duran is saying that our elected City Council members cannot talk to or listen to their constituents unless he gives them his permission. WOW! What arrogance. He will not talk to this group of Antioch citizens and accuses them of trying to do an end run around the process, yet he also states that staff is in discussions with developers that fit his narrow criteria.

  2. Julio says:

    Event Center. My concern is this city does not need another bankrupt event center. I believe Mr. Harrison and the Motts group have been disrespected by certain individuals in this city over and over again. “Staff” in Antioch has little respect for anyone who is a resident. But, back to the event center and I can’t agree with another empty building and one downtown will be no different than the other two.

    • Katie says:

      By “Event Center”, we’re not talking about another building, but more of a park-like venue, with maybe an amphitheater, a gazebo, for concerts and other attractions. Maybe a Peddler’s faire, food trucks, dog shows, car shows, farmer’s markets, boat shows, marching band revues, picnics, and holiday events. It could have a nice grassy area, maybe a separate dog park, and other things for the enjoyment of all. We should be able to have a place to sit and enjoy the river which is a huge draw for the downtown area. Many other cities have such a place and we should have somewhere we can enjoy the river with it’s many various activities around it.

  3. Eileen says:

    Duran makes over a quarter of a million dollars a year and lives in Dublin. Are we getting our money’s worth from this carpetbagger? I don’t know if an event center is the right way to go, or if a bunch of Section 8 apartments are, but it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks, Duran sounds like he made his mind up even before he started the job. The entire City Council, which selected Duran in the first place, also is about as responsive as a pile of rocks.
    Remember what happened in Bell? It can happen anywhere, especially here. Interesting article: “How the road to Bell was paved”:
    My question is, how can we have the City of Antioch audited to see if they’re operating in the tradition of the City of Bell? I’ve never seen such an unresponsive, arrogant city government in my life. These crooks need to go.

  4. LAR says:

    It seems to me that with all the crime in Antioch, the money would be better spent elsewhere. Maybe security cameras in crime areas such as parks, parking lots, etc.

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