CONCORD -- A plan to transform downtown into a thriving, pedestrian-friendly area with housing, shopping, dining and entertainment is complete.

The City Council on June 24 approved the downtown specific plan which encompasses policies and strategies for developing the area. The plan's goals include attracting housing and office building development, jobs and businesses to the area around the Concord BART station and west to Market Street.

Councilman Dan Helix said he and his colleagues discussed a downtown plan with Todos Santos Plaza as the hub with activities around it, concerts in the park and plenty of visitors when he was on the council 40 years ago.

"This really is a remarkable plan. It is better, by far, than we ever promised but never delivered," Helix said. "For me, it's very heartening to see this; to see that Concord does have a viable downtown."

Most of the funding to develop the specific plan came from a $480,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Now that the council has adopted the specific plan, Concord will be eligible for grants from MTC and other sources to pay for the public infrastructure and pedestrian projects.

During the first phase of development, the focus will be on mid- and high-density, market-rate housing with the goal of building more than 3,400 units in the downtown. By 2040, the city projects that more than 4,000 additional housing units will have been built and the number of residents downtown will more than double to 20,800.


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In addition to the 2.8 million square feet of existing downtown office space, 586,400 square feet of office space is projected to be built during phase one, and an additional 981,500 in the second phase for a total of 4.4 million square feet by 2040. The city expects to add about 743,000 square feet of retail space in that time.

The specific plan aims to make downtown attractive to residents, visitors and employers by creating an area that is vibrant, safe and walkable. Along the stretch of Grant Street from the BART station to Todos Santos Plaza the plan calls for installing bike lanes, bulb outs at major intersections, wide sidewalks with outdoor seating and wayfinding signs to link commuters to the downtown.

Wide sidewalks, outdoor seating, trees and new lighting would revitalize Salvio Street, and the plan envisions a new mixed-use development around the Pacheco Adobe.

Additional elements include a looping shuttle connecting BART, Todos Santos Plaza and major office and retail sites, and a public parking strategy and management plan.

"It's providing those points of interest, pulling the vitality that you see, on for example, Thursday nights ... in Todos Santos Plaza and beginning to pull that west," said Joan Ryan, senior planner. "In terms of benefits, the downtown plan really serves as a funding tool to obtain additional grant funding for the implementation strategies that we've delineated in the plan."

Several speakers at the meeting urged the council to ensure that the city's bicycle trails connect to the regional network and to the downtown. They also suggested that the city create an advisory committee that includes residents to work on the future citywide bike and pedestrian master plan.

Mayor Tim Grayson agreed that community input on the plan is important and he said the council will work with city staffers to determine the best way to include residents.

Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.

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