ANTIOCH -- In a sign that the East Contra Costa's real estate market is picking up steam, a city once tabbed as the East Bay's "ground zero" for the foreclosure meltdown recently approved its first development proposal since the recession.
Antioch leaders gave the go-ahead last month for Davidon Homes' 525 single-family home development on 170 acres off Canada Valley Road. The agreement is in place until March 2027.
The housing project includes filling in a long-sought missing piece of Laurel Road leading into Antioch, between Canada Valley and Highway 4. Plans for the Crest at Park Ridge and Trails at Park Ridge subdivisions include an 8.22-acre park and 25.5 acres of hilly open space within the neighborhoods.
Jeff Thayer, Davidon's vice president, said there's no time frame for construction and build-out would depend on market conditions.
"We've got a great structure for assuring we'll have an even type of build-out; we got enough time to survive a recession again if we had to again," he told the council at a recent meeting.
Davidon's engineers will spend the next six months to a year working on thorough construction drawings, while the homebuilder will also work on forming a Community Facilities District to pay for road, sewer and other infrastructure additions, Thayer said.
One of the conditions of the phased development is that once the 124th unit of the subdivision is recorded, Davidon would extend Laurel Road. Antioch will later craft a reimbursement agreement with Davidon for the city's share of the extension. Hertel Development, the developer previously obligated to extend the road when it began building houses north of Laurel, went bankrupt before the foundation was laid, city officials said back in 2009.
Davidon would also have to build out Country Hills Drive to Laurel Road after the 271st home permit is issued. It must also create a funding district for police services reasonably related to the project.
The next step for the project with the city will be design review.
"The reason we're taking all these steps now is so we can be ready to take advantage of a good market," Thayer said.
Antioch approved Davidon's tentative map and a use permit for the project as well as a declaration that new environmental studies were not needed for the area in March 2010.
Before the council's approval, resident and former councilman Ralph Hernandez implored city leaders to be mindful of Antioch's past and present history of housing "running amok," noting how the excess has led to increases in rentals, blight, rental properties bringing in crime and school overcrowding issues.
"This is par for the course for Antioch. I'm just pointing out that this has been one of the factors for the demise in Antioch," he said. "We're not ready for continued growth. Solve your problems first."
Councilman Tony Tiscareno acknowledged Hernandez's advice on overpopulation, but said the timing of this project is different, and there is a need for jobs and potential for retail.
Tiscareno also asked if the development would create union jobs and institute a local hiring policy. Davidon plans to hire union contractors for the plumbing, electrical and heating, venting and air conditioning jobs, and while there is no provision for local hires, many of the workers naturally live in the region, Thayer said.
Councilman Gary Agopian asked if there would be an emphasis on those buying homes living in them, rather than purchasing for speculation. Thayer said they haven't typically had problems with owners not occupying homes.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.