PITTSBURG -- City Council members gave tentative approval Monday to a development agreement for a long-delayed plan to transform an empty five-acre lot next to Pittsburg's civic center into a three-story commercial office building.
The project calls for Concord-based developer Garaventa Enterprises to erect a building between 65,000 and 75,000 square feet in size, a bicycle path, parking lot and a stand-alone full-service restaurant. The project is located next to a proposed eBART station at Highway 4 and Railroad Avenue.
Approval of the development agreement between the city and the developer clears the way for the office project to go through a formal approval process before construction begins. The agreement was approved by a 4-0 vote; Mayor Sal Evola recused himself because he is employed by Garaventa Enterprises.
The agreement calls for the project to be completed by September 2017, the same year that BART expects to finish the 10-mile eBART extension from the Pittsburg-Bay Point station to Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch.
"There is an increased interest in the office tower with several possible tenants, including but not limited to the Pittsburg Unified School District and other tenants that are becoming more aware of the hopefully coming eBART station" in Pittsburg, Assistant City Manager Garrett Evans said.
Ballots will be mailed in May to commercial property owners within a half-mile radius of the proposed eBART station in Pittsburg asking whether they would be willing to pay a one-time tax to help build the station, which does not have BART funding. The tax would be levied only when commercial property owners filed a building permit for new construction. The Civic Tower project would be among the properties subject to the tax if it is approved by a two-thirds majority.
The office project would bring revenue to the city and "also creates the opportunity for new jobs in the city and local community. ... We see this as a really positive move for the city," said Robert Hammons, project manager for Garaventa Enterprises.
Whether a restaurant will be included in the final project is undecided at this time, given that many new restaurants have opened in the city's nearby Old Town on Railroad Avenue in the past few years.
Monday's vote followed a recommendation by the Planning Commission to approve the development agreement. The matter will come back for formal approval at the May 5 council meeting.
Five years ago, council members, acting as the city's redevelopment agency, approved a similar agreement for a three-story building that involved giving the city-owned land to Garaventa Enterprises in exchange for developing it under the terms of the agreement.
The economic slowdown delayed the project, allowing previous approval agreements to expire. With the shutdown of redevelopment agencies in 2012, a new development agreement was needed.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.