The Oakley City Council has approved key project plans for a strip retail center at the northwest corner of Empire Avenue and Neroly Road.

The proposed 2.49-acre, three-parcel project at 3410 Empire Avenue is expected to include an 8,720-square-foot anchor building; an approximately 10,800-square-foot retail establishment with a drive-thru; and a future 1,200-square-foot self-serve car wash.

Applicant Phuong Hoang Thach, owner of Nails by Jimmy in Antioch’s Slatten Ranch, confirmed that his business, along with hair and spa services, will occupy a portion of the center. But he’s still searching for an anchor tenant and fellow retailers.

The proposed car wash, conceived as a 50-foot tunnel, is authorized but has no confirmed operator and will require the council to conduct a full design review prior to construction.

The center will be built in phases, beginning with the 10,800-square-foot retail spot with a drive-thru. A construction time line hasn’t been announced.

“I am a resident myself here in Oakley, so I am trying to provide more jobs for neighbors and the community,” Thach said after the meeting. “Hopefully there are a couple more retailers coming in, and we are actually looking for the anchor store.”

Joshua McMurray, the city’s community development director, said in a staff report that the project will bring added benefits and amenities to residents by providing commercial and retail space for new businesses, while creating new jobs and property tax revenue.

The council suggested just a handful of changes prior to approving the tentative parcel map to split the property into three sections; a conditional-use permit for the drive-thru restaurant use and car-wash tunnel; and the design of the 8,720-square-foot anchor building.

Mayor Kevin Romick indicated that no wall is needed on the project’s far western side in front of the main structure, and he suggested that the existing masonry wall along the Neroly Road frontage — which will be altered to accommodate site access — be lowered to allow the shops to be seen from the street.

Other changes included lowering a proposed corner sign highlighting the center’s businesses; installing bike racks in front of each retail building; and considering the addition of a solar roof.

“I would encourage you to go ahead with that (rooftop solar),” said City Councilmember Michael Krieg. “This is something that we all need to think about doing.”

Nearby resident Angela Lowrey, the lone public speaker on the project, suggested that the city implement adjustments to address the likely project-related increase in vehicle traffic. She also questioned whether another car wash is needed and recommended that bee-loving plants be used in the project landscape and any on-site trees be replaced if they are removed.

Romick noted that car washes appear to be the hot development item, in and out of Oakley.

“I think Brentwood has seven of them planned or in design right now,” he said. “That seems to be what developers are looking at as the latest project.”

To view a complete staff report on the project, visit