LIVERMORE -- About 40 concerned residents and tenants of Sunset Office Plaza and Livermore Financial Center filled the City Council chamber Thursday night to hear city planners present details on two residential developments proposed to replace the complexes.
San Ramon-based Sunset Development plans on demolishing the two long-standing complexes to make room for Sunset Crossings -- a development of 49 single-family homes and 38 town homes -- and Catalina Crossings, planned for 31 town homes.
Planners said they've been receiving multiple calls each week about the proposal. Planning Manager Paul Spence said the purpose of the meeting was to explain the planning process to those attending and to inform them about how they can participate, as well as to answer questions about the development.
"If there's significant interest generated in a project, we want to be as proactive as we can," Spence said.
Built in the early 1970s, the Sunset Office Plaza at Holmes Street and Concannon Avenue contains about 80,000 square feet of office space in 10 buildings. It is home to doctors, dentists, insurance brokers and other small businesses. The Livermore Financial Center has more than 33,000 square feet in four buildings.
According to Sunset Development's senior vice president, Chris Truebridge, Sunset Office Plaza's vacancy rate stands at 29 percent, and is at 38 percent at Livermore Financial Center.
Diversified Medical Center employee Roslyn Bell is heading a petition drive against the development at Sunset Office Plaza and said she has gathered 1,200 signatures. She and other tenants say tearing down the complex will close numerous businesses like hers that can't afford to move downtown, or force them out of Livermore altogether.
"Livermore still needs small business," Bell said. "There is nothing whatsoever for this end of town, and there won't be if this goes through."
A number of neighbors and tenants have opposed the project, citing the negative impact on traffic congestion and safety in the area. Bell, whose practice has a lease into fall 2014, said she would be mounting a letter-writing campaign to stop the development.
"The fat lady hasn't sung yet," Bell said. "I'm sticking to my guns."
Sunset's Truebridge has said the company has no timetable for issuing eviction notices to tenants and added that city officials "did an excellent job" in presenting the proposal. "I think we've got a good project here," Truebridge said.
According to the city, the environmental review process will take about three to six months; the next public meeting won't be held until after the draft environmental report is completed, likely in late 2013 or early 2014.
"(The audience) had concerns about density and how this project might impact current tenants," Spence said. "We'll be looking at those impacts as part of our analysis."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.