RICHMOND -- A definite construction timeline for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's proposed Richmond biosciences campus remains unclear, but lab officials assured the City Council on Tuesday night that the project is moving forward.
Plans originally included a 2015 groundbreaking for the $130 million Richmond Bay campus. Now, because of federal sequestration funding cuts, that date is questionable, officials said.
"It does not in any way reduce our commitment to the site," said Glenn Kubiak, the lab's chief operating officer. "Our longer-term space constraints still exist ... and we're looking to the Richmond Bay campus as a solution."
UC Berkeley is now the lead institution to develop the Richmond Bay campus. Officials are working to draft an environment impact report and hope to take the proposal to the University of California Board of Regents for approval in May 2014.
"Our future really only involves two sites -- hill site at Berkeley and the Richmond Bay campus," Kubiak said. "With a project of any duration like this, you are going to have some bumps along the road."
Several council members questioned lab officials on a specific construction timeline. Council members reiterated their concerns about jobs for Richmond residents and the vulnerability of residents to possible rising rental rates and property taxes near the proposed site.
The University of California Richmond Field Station was selected last year after a competitive process that included several Bay Area cities. The proposal for the 100-acre site is a major boost for the city's economy and could make Richmond an epicenter for bioscience, health and energy research.
"We as a city need to advocate for this project," City Manager Bill Lindsay said.
"It benefits the regional economy in terms of job development and job growth. It's a real game-changer. This is an important project from a national, regional and local perspective."
This article was produced by RichmondConfidential.org, a nonprofit news service based in the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.