Phase II on Track for $400M Mixed-Use Transit Village

A four-partner public-private partnership has broken ground for the second phase of work on a $400 million mixed-use transit oriented development called Avalon Walnut Creek at Contra Costa Center, which is located next to the transit station in Pleasant Hill in California’s Bay Area. According to Steve West, senior vice president of development on the West Coast with Washington, D.C.-based AvalonBay Communities Inc., one of the project’s partners, mixed-use transit oriented development is the wave of the future for multi-family developers. “This kind of mixed-use, higher density smart growth development–including multi-family apartments–will push toward the urban core over the next five years, and transit will be the catalyst,” West told CPN today. Partners on the Avalon Walnut Creek project (pictured) include Avalon Bay, Contra Costa County, Calif., New York City-based Millennium Partners and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART). Each partner is investing a portion of the total $400 million cost of the development. “These kinds of public-private partnerships will be the model for complex transit oriented projects going forward,” said West. “Transit organizations hold a lot of real estate, and unlocking the potential of that real estate is complicated. It involves putting together land leases, affordable housing, parking, retail, office space and other parts of a large and complex puzzle.”The initial phase of construction expanded the BART parking garage, which opened earlier this month. The expanded garage freed up parking surfaces for re-development. Phase II will add 422 residential apartments of which 85 will be affordable units. Additional construction phases will add 100 condominium units, 35,000 square feet of local service retail, a civic use area, a 19,400-square-foot business conference center and 270,000 square feet of office space. While transit-oriented development is in its infancy, AvalonBay has already developed four communities with a total of 1,086 apartments at Bay Area transit hubs. In addition to the apartments at Avalon Walnut Creek, the company has 698 apartments under construction and is securing entitlements for another 405 apartments–all at significant Bay Area transit locations. Altogether, AvalonBay will have 2,600 transit-oriented apartments by 2010.