A real estate development company is considering building 125 apartment homes behind the U.S. Post Office on Bixler Road in Discovery Bay.
The Embarcadero Group (EG) is in contract to purchase the six-acre lot behind the post office and Safeway, and feels that it’s suited to either self-storage or high-density, multi-family housing.
John Tomasello, a partner at EG, has been working in real estate for decades and made a presentation to the Discovery Bay Community Services District (CSD) board of directors at its regular meeting on Aug. 21 to get some feedback from the community.
“Based on our analysis, we found this property would be well-suited for a self-storage facility or a multi-family rental community,” Tomasello told the board. “As we look at the community at large — due to the fact that there are no multi-family rental communities at all in Discovery Bay — we felt that this was the highest and best use of the property.”
He further noted, though some sections of the town were originally zoned for high-density housing, those areas have all been built out in single family homes.
EG is in contract to purchase the property from Pacific Development Group (PDG), which originally obtained the property roughly 17 years ago, and developed the Sandy Cove Shopping Center. PDG slated the lot for a small office park, but was never able to raise interest in the project. Tomasello said the purchase could be complete in one-to-two years.
Public comment was unfavorable. Longtime resident Cheryl McDonald was concerned apartments would attract crime.
“Apartments bring in the single kids, bring the drugs and the crime, and our roads are so compacted now ... I see the biggest problem bringing in the theft and the drugs,” McDonald said. “I like the idea of senior apartments, because there are a lot of people out here becoming seniors who want to stay in the area.”
McDonald’s concerns weren’t the only ones raised. CSD Director Kevin Graves questioned whether the town’s water and wastewater system could handle the load of 125 more homes, and Director Bill Mayer wondered if the roads could handle any more traffic. Town of Discovery Bay General Manager Mike Davies spoke to the water and wastewater concerns, saying the town, “... would have to do a study to determine whether or not we could handle the water and wastewater capacity, and what those impacts would be.”
Director Bill Pease floated the idea of making the complex an active adult community, limited to those 55 and older. In the end, the Town of Discovery Bay has no land-use authority and can only offer feedback to developers and the county board of supervisors.
The CSD was not Tomasello’s first stop. He has already met with Supervisor Diane Burgis, whom he felt understood the need for high-capacity housing. Burgis suggested EG move forward by meeting with the various agencies in East County, like the CSD and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
“(We wanted) to give the presentation in front of the board to get their reaction,” Tomasello said after the meeting, “because every project should be sensitive to their community. The comments at the meeting were not totally unexpected.”
Tomasello said if it comes to fruition, the housing project would be a fully amenitized apartment complex, with a pool and open spaces. He feels projects like these are part of the answer to the state’s housing shortage.
“There is a need in the community,” he added. “We look at this as transitional housing — people moving in and out of Discovery Bay. They may be coming out of the Bay Area and their home sells, and they need six months to stay somewhere while they are buying a home in Discovery Bay. Or divorces. Someone has to leave the house and go into the apartment. We wouldn’t expect long-term rentals or many families.”
In the end, the project is in the conceptual stage, and no drawings or solid plans have been made.
“It was a very generic presentation,” Director Bob Leete said after the meeting. “I don’t have a lot of detail. I’d like to hear some more details if they’re going to proceed, and if they’re going to proceed, I’d like to hear some feedback from the community.”