WALNUT CREEK -- A proposed 141-unit apartment project is expected to provide an early indication of community expectations for the city's West Downtown Specific Plan.

The community-led West Downtown Specific Plan planning process is expected to take about two more years. But in the meantime, the proposed 141-unit "The Landing at Walnut Creek" on Ygnacio Valley falls within the specific plan area, and is now in the city's planning pipeline.

The Landing at Walnut Creek would be built just east of the BART station, on a 1½-acre parcel that also borders the Lacassie Avenue cul-de-sac, where the entrance to its underground garage is proposed. This is on the southeast side of the Ygnacio Valley/Interstate 680 off-ramp intersection.

City staff plans to encourage the developer, Danville-based Centerstreet Development, to reach out to the community to seek input on its proposal, so it meets expectations for the West Downtown plan area.

The land would also have to be rezoned to allow denser residential development there -- apartments instead of the single-family houses now there. Centerstreet Development also seeks an increase in the allowed building height on that spot from 50 to 60 feet.

City Planner Ken Nodder said the city's review process will likely start within the next few months and is expected to take most of 2013.

Walnut Creek's West Downtown Specific Plan was designed to help encourage development of commercial and residential opportunities for the area between California Boulevard and Interstate 680.

The specific plan is also expected to have impacts well beyond western Walnut Creek. Planning for a more commuter-friendly area within Walnut Creek borders could mean less pressure to develop areas outside of town and throughout Contra Costa for residential development. Late last year, the area was expanded southward to include the Olympic Boulevard corridor.

Also late last year, the BART Transit Village apartment-and-retail project received major approvals to move forward. Just a few blocks from the Landings project, the transit village project would include 596 apartments and up to 12,000 square feet of commercial space.

West Downtown Specific Plan
a small "catch-up" workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22 at City Hall, 1666 N. Main St., Walnut Creek. It is geared toward residents in the "expansion area" south of Mt. Diablo Blvd. The second "regular" community workshop is scheduled for Feb. 6 at the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 1801 Lacassie Ave. More information is available at www.walnut-creek.org/westdowntown.