WALNUT CREEK -- Two recently approved apartment developments less than two blocks from each other will add more than 400 units near downtown.
The Paragon Apartments on Civic Drive and the Main Street Apartments were approved by the Planning Commission on Aug. 11. While some residents complained these would create a glut of rental units and additional traffic, developers and city leaders say this will bring much-needed housing less than a mile from downtown and Walnut Creek BART.
"We are hoping to bring a lot of new residents, new customers and new patrons to existing downtown businesses to take advantage of the really great downtown," Kelly Snider of Urban Housing Group, developers for Paragon Apartments, told planning commissioners.
After the 80,000-square-foot former Longs headquarters is demolished, Urban Housing will build a 300-unit, four-story development on a 5-acre site with a 468-stall, five-level solar-powered parking garage. The one- and two-bedroom apartments will vary in size from 667 to 1,051 square feet. Amenities for residents include two clubhouses, a pool, an outdoor spa, a fitness room and a rooftop terrace.
Urban Housing's target demographics are young professionals and people who want to downsize, said Snider.
Developers will create a public walking path along the side of the development, providing a cut-through from Civic Drive to Broadway. A new intersection on Civic at the entrance to the development, across the street from where buses stage and wait for Walnut Creek Intermediate students, is also planned, as is an extended left-turn lane onto Ygnacio Valley Road.
But some still worry about the traffic the new development will create on an already crowded Civic and Ygnacio.
As far as "walking to BART ... it's possible, but that's a long haul right there," said Walnut Creek resident Don Sampson. "It's not a good bike path from that spot to BART, so people are going to end up driving."
Traffic problems on Ygnacio Valley Road are always going to be an issue, apartments or not, said commission Chairman David Powell. Fellow Commissioner Bob Pickett said the developer's improvements will do more than just solve issues the project creates.
"The traffic improvements ... are all significant benefits to the project and will help remedy existing problems," said Pickett.
The commission also approved another apartment project Aug. 11, set to be built just down the road from Paragon.
The North Main Apartments, a $19.54 million, 126-unit, four-story apartment building at the northwest of the corner of Ygnacio Valley Road and North Main Street, will include a 167-stall underground parking garage. The Walnut Creek Motor Lodge, formerly on that site, has already been demolished. The 116,282-square-foot building will sit next to the condo complex 555YVR and offer a fitness room, pool and a rooftop terrace with barbecue units.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.