The Ranch

Photo courtesy of Richland Communities, Inc

Antioch leaders recently approved key documents moving forward with a planned 1,177-unit, 551-acre community west of Deer Valley Road near Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and across from the Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center.

A long-debated housing project in the southern part of the city may now move ahead.

Antioch leaders recently approved key documents moving forward with a planned 1,177-unit, 551-acre community west of Deer Valley Road near Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and across from the Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center.

The proposal, first submitted in 2015 as a 1,667-unit concept, has been held up by residents’ and environmental groups’ concerns, formal initiative efforts governing the proposed project area, and legal actions, but now a third version that includes lots of open space and trails appears to be the charm.

A cattle-grazing operation, one home and a number of barns and outbuildings currently occupy the site.

“This is going to be a gem of a project,” Antioch Mayor Sean Wright said. “What an opportunity to not only build some necessary housing but also be able to connect that open space and make it usable for our community.”

The 1,177-unit plan is expected to feature 543 single-family residential units, including 133 executive home sites, 212 medium density residential homes and 422 age-restricted (over age 55) senior units, in addition to a fire station and a 5-acre village-center area — accommodating up to 54,000 square feet of neighborhood commercial, office and retail space.

About 43% of the project will be dedicated to open space, with the area’s southwest hill ridgelines unaltered; the Sand Creek corridor generally undisturbed; and over seven miles of trails — all leading to a one-acre trail staging area on the site’s furthest western edge that would give way to off-site East Bay Regional Park lands.

The project’s approval appeared to be buoyed by its open-space-conscious approach and a slew of other guaranteed community benefits, including $2.5 million to the city for economic development and employment-generating uses; dedication of a two-acre parcel for a future fire station; and annexation into both fire and police service community facilities districts, aimed at offsetting the development’s new strain on both.

“This is really a model for future developments,” Councilmember Joy Motts said. “I appreciate all the effort that went into this.”

Save Mount Diablo, a land trust and conservation organization that has long fought to preserve the project’s general area, declined to take a stance on the plan but did praise several conservation-driven choices.

The organization is currently advocating for the Let Antioch Voters Decide initiative that will appear on the November ballot and would zone an 1,800-acre stretch west of Deer Valley Road for rural residential, agricultural and open-space uses. It would also require a vote for more intensive development and voter approval for all urban limit line changes.

That initiative, if approved, wouldn’t affect the project.

“We are pleased with the improvements to the project that Richland has made since 2018, such as that the unit count has been reduced by 30%, the footprint changed to avoid development impacts on the hills on-site, and the 250 acres of parks and open space,” said Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo’s land conservation director.

Residents’ opinions are mixed.

“I don’t want to see more suburban sprawl on the outskirts of Antioch, causing traffic on Lone Tree Way and Deer Valley Road, and also stretching our police and fire services to cover more territory,” said resident Karen Campbell.

Thomas Lawson, however, said the additional housing choices for youth all the way to seniors is needed in the community.

“The project will bring in millions of dollars to the City of Antioch and provide housing choices for first-time buyers, all the way up to those seeking retirement,” he said.

Richland Communities representative Kyle Masters noted that the company has been working closely with city and Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials to ensure that funding mechanisms are in place to address future public safety resources.

He also lauded the project’s vast recreational amenities that, in addition to trails and open space, include four 2.4- to 6-acre neighborhood parks and several smaller pocket parks.

“We do believe it will be a great community. We are excited to see it move on to the next step,” said Craig Cristina, Richland’s senior vice president of entitlement.

The project is expected to be completed in three major phases, with the start of construction still three and a half to four years away and first occupancy five years down the road.

Prior to development, the project must complete a final development plan; have a tentative project map approved; and undergo a formal design review to ensure that it meets project design guidelines.

For more information on the project, visit https://bit.ly/3a2KjSu.

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