Payton Perspective: Council should approve Blackhawk-Nunn’s proposed gated housing community

Payton Perspective logo 2015By Allen Payton, Publisher

Finally. Antioch has a gated, single-family home community being proposed for development. This is not just any gated community, but one by Blackhawk in partnership with the Nunns of Brentwood who built Apple Hill Estates and other projects in the city to our east.

While it’s not the same as Apple Hill or Blackhawk in the San Ramon Valley, at least it’s a gated community with some nice amenities and homes that are projected to sell in the $500,000 to $600,000 range, which will help improve home values throughout Antioch.

The project, known as the Vineyards at Sand Creek, two years in the planning stage, received a 5-1 vote by the Antioch Planning Commission recommending approval by the City Council.

It includes 641 homes on 4,200 to 5,160 square foot lots, which doesn’t fit within my previous stated desire for larger homes on larger lots in the Sand Creek Focus Area of the City’s General Plan, formerly known as Future Urban Area 1 or FUA-1. However, it makes sense, as that area is adjacent to what is proposed to be mixed use development, including high-density housing on the Brentwood side, and a BART  station.

It will replace the 640 homes lost when the land for the planned, gated Roddy Ranch community was allowed to be sold to the East Bay Regional Park District that would have helped pay for the roads and sewer lines in the Sand Creek Focus Area of the City’s General Plan.

While the lot sizes don’t fit within my previous stated desire for larger homes on larger lots in that part of Antioch, formerly known as Future Urban Area 1 or FUA-1. Plus, again, the homes will be in a gated community, which does fit within my previously stated desires for the area, along with upscale homes and senior communities.

Also, this project will provide the extension to the needed infrastructure to the entire focus area, specifically the sewer line and a section of Sand Creek Road. It is located across the street, of the planned extension of Hillcrest Avenue, from the previously approved Aviano Farms.

A little background for those concerned about all the new houses. When I was on the City Council from 1994-98 a total of 8,900 homes were planned for the area. Today that number is down to about 4,000 and possibly fewer, after learning in a recent discussion with representatives of Richland, which owns the land known as The Ranch, across Deer Valley Road from the Kaiser Medical Center, and was slated for 1,667 homes. They told me that number will be closer to 1,100 homes, instead. So, the total number of homes for the 2,700 acre Sand Creek Focus Area, inside the city limits and inside the Urban Limit Line, which cuts off 65% of land in the county from subdivision development (no more than one home per five acres), definitely fits within reason and the long-term plans for Antioch and East County.

Plus, an economic study has shown there is more than enough land in Antioch for commercial development and employment. Specifically, the proposed Resolution in the City Staff report states “in May 2015, the City hired EPS to prepare the ‘Implications for Economic Development of the Proposed General Plan Amendment for the Promenade/Vineyards at Sand Creek Project’ (the ‘Economic Study’). The Economic Study concluded that: (1) The City currently has workspace development capacity of approximately 23.3 million square feet; (2) On an aggregate basis, the City has substantial development capacity for job growth requiring office/commercial and business park/industrial space; (3) Comparison of available City employment areas indicates that there are areas that are better and will be more competitive in attracting economic development than the Sand Creek Focus Area; and (4) Overall, the proposed change in General Plan designation (from Business Park to Residential) will not negatively affect the City’s ability to attract new economic development.

The project will also be required to create an assessment district to pay for police, with each home paying an annual fee, as the Aviano Farms project was required to do.

Finally, the fact that Blackhawk wants to build in Antioch says a lot and sends a message to the greater Bay Area that our city is coming back and on the road to economic recovery and hopefully, a safer one, as well.

However, as I stated in my column, last month, this should be the last project proposed for the Sand Creek Focus Area, approved by the Planning Commission and City Council, until a final plan for the area is put in place, which isn’t expected to be completed until later this year.

While we still have a long way to go to improve our city, the homes, if approved won’t be under construction for another few years. By then things can and should not only be better for the new homebuyers, but for those of us who live here, now, as well.

The Antioch City Council meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 8 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, between West 2nd and 3rd Streets at H Street.

2 Comments to “Payton Perspective: Council should approve Blackhawk-Nunn’s proposed gated housing community”

  1. Marty Fernandez says:

    Although I am not for ANY building in Antioch until we repair the current damage done to it I have investigated this group and do support this development. It is as far as 10 years down the road but some things need to be done out there. There is a situation with sewage lines and service that have been hidden for 10 years and the only way for the city to get this corrected is to approve the Aviano (approved) and Vineyards proposals. This will get the sewer problems out at Kaiser and Dozer-Libby finally corrected. I am told there is no other way. I will be at the meeting to support this development.

  2. Arne says:

    I agree with Allen’s perspective that this project should be approved by the city council.

    It will have no impact on the AUSD as the project is located in the Brentwood and Liberty school district boundaries.

    More importantly, it will help get Sand Creek Road completed between Deer Valley Road and the Hwy 4 By-pass intersection.

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