Coast Guard to sell vacant housing near Concord Naval Weapons Station
By LISA P. WHITE | East Bay Times | Published: June 26, 2017
CONCORD, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — Three years ago, the city jumped at the opportunity to buy the vacant military housing near the Concord Naval Weapons Station when the Coast Guard declared the property surplus.
But after initially saying it intended to sell, the Coast Guard put the disposal process on hold while it studied the need for Bay Area housing for enlisted personnel, according to Victoria Walker, Concord’s community and economic director.
Last month, the Coast Guard announced its willingness to negotiate a possible sale of the property to Concord for fair market value, Walker said.
The 58-acre site, which city leaders believe would be ideal for a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, sits directly across East Olivera Road from Willow Pass Community Park and abuts the North Concord BART station parking lot.
In a May 19 letter to the U.S. General Services Administration, City Manager Valerie Barone reaffirmed Concord’s interest in purchasing the property.
“The reuse of the USCG property is important to the city of Concord as it is adjacent to both the Concord Naval Weapons Station reuse project area and the North Concord BART station,” Barone wrote.
“This site offers opportunities for additional housing, including greatly needed affordable housing, and it would be the city’s intention to ensure that future development of the site supports and provides a variety of public benefits to the community.”
Although the GSA is handling the sale, the agency referred questions to the Coast Guard, which did not respond to a request for comment. The federal government must complete an environmental review of the property which could take six more months.
The city and the Coast Guard will wait until the environmental report is finished before they have the property appraised.
The Navy transferred the housing to the Coast Guard in 2008. The site includes two developments, Victory Village and Quinault Village — named after the S.S. Quinault Victory ship, which exploded in the deadly Port Chicago disaster during World War II.
Built in the 1950s, Quinault Village has 42 low-rise duplexes and a small community building; Victory Village, which dates to the 1980s, includes about 100 triplexes. Most of the units in both developments have three or four bedrooms.
“Our understanding is (the housing) was not built to code, it’s deteriorated and there would be real questions about the value of trying to rehabilitate it,” Walker said. “It’s premature to decide whether those units could be reasonably rehabilitated or if that is just not a good cost-benefit to our goals.”
On July 24, the city’s Housing and Economic Development Committee will consider recommending to the full council that the city seek a development partner to pursue a negotiated sale of the Coast Guard property.
If Concord buys the property, Walker said, it would require that 25 percent of the housing built on the site is affordable, the same standard city leaders set for the reuse project on the former naval base.
Since the land belongs to the federal government, it has no general plan designations or zoning. At the July 25 council meeting, staff members plan to propose that the city add the Coast Guard property to the ongoing specific planning process for the naval weapons station.
A specific plan defines land uses and densities, describes the components of private and public transportation, creates development standards, addresses natural resources and water, sewage and solid waste disposal.
“Until the specific plan is done, we won’t know the true development potential of the site,” Walker said.