WALNUT CREEK -- On hold no longer, Broadway Plaza's plans for expansion are making their way through the city's approval process, with the goal of starting construction in early 2014.
Macerich, the owners of Broadway Plaza, briefed the City Council last week on newly scaled-back plans, which include elimination of 200 proposed housing units. In 2011, the planned 300,000 square-foot expansion filed with the city included a request to shut off vehicle traffic on the two-lane Broadway Plaza road that divides the east and west sides of the mall.
Last April, after meeting opposition to some of its proposals, Macerich requested that the processing of their plans by the city be put on hold indefinitely.
Now, due to public concern about closing Broadway Plaza road, that idea has been scrapped in order to move the other proposals forward. Leaving the street open will allow for County Connection to continue its current route and retain access for emergency services to the area.
Still, the council asked Macerich on Tuesday if the company can find ways to make the area more pedestrian friendly without closing off the street. The goal, said Walnut Creek senior planner Kenneth Nodder, will be to make subtle changes that might discourage vehicle traffic through the area.
"They'd still like to create pedestrian amenities, widening sidewalks, providing better crosswalks, more landscaping and other pedestrian amenities," Nodder said.
Plans for underground parking have also been scrapped, in exchange for the possibility of adding a level to the parking garage on North Main and building another garage off Broadway. The plans for 200 housing units in the mall have also been scrapped.
Even with the scaled-down scope of the project, it would increase the retail space in the mall by almost a third.
Macerich had been offering millions of dollars to the city in exchange for the rights to close Broadway Plaza to traffic. That deal is off the table now.
Now that Macerich has briefed the council on their revised long-term plans, the next steps will be public hearings before the design review, transportation and planning commissions.
While an already-completed draft environmental impact report will speed up the city approval process, Macerich faces another hurdle as well. Part of the mall is built around San Ramon and Las Trampas creeks. The Army Corps of Engineers built culverts in the creeks in the 1940s and 50s in response to severe flooding; Macerich estimates getting approval from the Army Corps to demolish those and build new structures nearby could take up to 24 months.
The Army Corps may also require a 100-foot no-build zone, which Macerich says would kill the whole project. They are working to convince the Army Corps to transfer oversight of the area to the city of Walnut Creek.
If there are no further delays, Macerich might start construction on the parking garages in January 2014.