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City Council Approves Plan For Broadway Plaza Renovation

The demolition of 40 stores and the Nordstrom parking garage would start early next year

The Walnut Creek City Council listens as city planner Kenneth Nodder reviews the Broadway Plaza renovation plans
The Walnut Creek City Council listens as city planner Kenneth Nodder reviews the Broadway Plaza renovation plans
The bulldozer engines can start getting warmed up.

The Walnut Creek City Council on Tuesday night approved plans to renovate the eastern half of the Broadway Plaza shopping center.

The four-year $250 million project will include the demolition of 40 stores between Nordstrom and Macy's as well as the parking lots next to those department stores.

The plan would add as much as 300,000 square feet of retail space to the 25-acre shopping center, raising the total square footage to 1.1 million.

Under the current timeline, the demolition of the Nordstrom parking garage as well as the strip of stores would occur early next year. The expansion of Macy's would also start next year. A new Nordstrom garage would open by the end of 2014.

In 2015, the Macy's garage would be demolished. A new garage would be built by the end of the year. Street improvements would be completed and some of the new buildings in the demolished strip would be finished.

In 2016, the Macy's expansion would open. The demolition of the Macy's men's store on the west side of Broadway Plaza street would begin. More of the buildings in the eastern strip would open.

In 2017, the last of the new buildings would be opened.

Garrett Newland, vice president of development for Macerich (the owners of the shopping center), said the new center will generate at least $1.5 million in extra tax revenue a year for the city once the project is completed. The company will also contribute $5 million in phased payments to the city.

He added the new center will be a state-of-the-art, high quality facility that includes sidewalk and street improvements.

He noted Macerich has worked with city staff and the community to come up with the current plan. The Tuesday night meeting was the 15th public hearing on the project over the past two years.

"The plans will renovate and take Broadway Plaza to a new level," said Newland. "It will serve Walnut Creek for the next 60 years."

To make the project happen, the City Council approved a General Plan amendment, a planned development rezoning, design guidelines, a final environment impact report and two development agreements, one with Macerich and one with Macy's.

All the components were approved unanimously with the exception of the design guidelines. The vote on that document was 4-1 with Councilman Bob Simmons voting no.

Simmons objected to that part of the proposal because he opposed plans to rebuild the bridge from Macy's to the parking lot. He said a new, wider bridge would encourage more vehicle traffic and harm the habitat at the creek there.

Simmons said a study should be done on alternatives to that part of the renovation, including the option of not having a bridge there at all.

However, Newland said the new bridge was a key component to the project and needs to be part of it. Other council members agreed with Newland, so Simmons' suggestion was not included in the approved documents.

Macerich still needs approval from Congress to take control of the creek culvert from the Army Corps of Engineers to do construction around that waterway, including expanding Macy's over part of the culvert. Newland said he expects that approval in early January.

Only three members of the public spoke about the project.

One of them, Leslie Hunt, president of Friends of the Creek, said her group is disappointed in the lack of creek improvements in the current plans. However, she said her organization has not taken an official position on the project as a whole.

Charles Abrams, a former councilman and member of the Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said the chamber fully supports the renovation.

"This is going to be so completely beneficial to Walnut Creek," he said.

Council members agreed with Abrams' sentiments. They thanked Macerich for working with city planners to make the renovation happen.

"I thank you for your commitment to the project," said Councilwoman Cindy Silva. "I think this will furthur strengthen our downtown."

"I can't image Walnut Creek without Broadway Plaza," added Councilwoman Loella Haskew. "I am pleased and happy you hung with us to get this far."

Mayor Kristina Lawson said Walnut Creek is a haven for shopping, in part, because of Broadway Plaza.

"To me, it's a no brainer to support a renovation of a 50-year-old center," she said.

Councilman Justin Wedel did not offer any comments, but he voted in favor of the project.

JKI December 11, 2013 at 01:50 PM
They've had car-pooling (by lottery) for years, it's severely hampered by the lack of on-site parking at LL, built in 1952. The city has long since metered all the parking on surrounding streets. The ones even remotely close enough to walk have long chosen to use that option. No school bus service is offered. What remains is a very congested, very oversubscribed situation. But you're right, now that Silva & Companies kids have graduated from high school, lets not worry too much about what should be a memorable high school experience become swallowed up by a city construction appetite that has run amok.
mlm2013 December 11, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Thanks for the info on car-pooling lottery - interesting solution.
Tim Ekren December 11, 2013 at 08:15 PM
David, thanks for getting this story out. Still waiting on Contra Coast Times but pretty much useless when it comes to actual news. Heck, even Business Journals actually had an article posted on their website. Like everyone posted, the project will have an impact the next several years so it is good to get some actual details. .. Can't speak for LL. I drop one of my kids at Campolindo. Just dreading the insurance premium when she starts driving. Parking is not even on the radar of concerns.

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