Specific Plan Formulation
The Pleasant Hill BART station lies in an urbanized but unincorporated area of central Contra Costa County between the cities of Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. Despite several years of county efforts to promote higher-density development around the station, the area remained one dominated by modest low-density single-family homes. The county decided to employ a combination of planning and fiscal tools in an effort to make the station area (about 125 acres) a major new development node. These tools included a Specific Plan, a redevelopment area, and an assessment district. Was involved in all aspects of this innovative and nationally acclaimed planning effort, including the negotiation of a long-term development agreement with the County which provided 1.3 million SF of development rights on BART properties. The financing plan made possible by the redevelopment area and the assessment district allowed the county to build nearly $30 million of public infrastructure improvements prior to any new development. Innovative aspects of this plan included heavy concentration of density near transit; extensive use of development agreements between the county and owners, including BART; transferable development rights; plan amendment and zoning provisions that allow substantial flexibility in responding to market conditions; strong Transportation Systems Management and childcare ordinances; and transit impact fees financed through a special assessment district.
In 1994, BART announced its plan to construct an intermodal (BART-CalTrain-SamTrans) station at Millbrae Avenue between El Camino and Highway 101. The plan involved constructing 3,300 parking spaces to serve commuters. The city, while interested in the idea of a major transit facility as a potential economic development catalyst, was not interested in a station that was nothing more than a commuter parking facility. I led a planning team to develop an alternative station area “concept plan” to BART’s parking proposal. The assembled team, which included Sedway Group, ROMA Design and Wilbur Smith Associates, crafted a plan that eventually became the basis for a revised BART plan. This plan called for major new commercial development of office, hotel and retail uses. The plan work included a review of commercial market conditions in the area. In September 1997, the planning team began converting the concept plan into a detailed, legally binding California Specific Plan for the station area.
Following on Sedway Group’s previous BART Station Concept Plan, Sedway Group, in conjunction with ROMA Design and Wilbur Smith Associates, prepared a California Specific Plan for the station area. The Plan included major new commercial development of office, hotel and retail uses. The 40.7-acre Plan Area includes 11 development parcels with a preliminary development program of 1.1 million square feet of office space, 1,000 hotel rooms, 390 multifamily residential units, and 74,000 square feet of retail space. Sedway Group’s work scope included a draft financing plan, an analysis of the overall plan feasibility, and a calculation of fiscal revenues generated by the land uses in the Plan. For the plan feasibility component, Sedway Group estimated the value of each parcel as if improved with the various Plan area land uses. Development costs (including developer profit) were then subtracted from the improved values to determine the residual value remaining for land and infrastructure improvements. Significant infrastructure improvements are necessary to support new development in the Plan Area, including street improvements, utility infrastructure (including sewer treatment and water system upgrades), enhanced streetscape, and landscape and lighting. An engineering firm estimated costs for these improvements, which Sedway Group then allocated to each parcel based on a pro rata share formula. Based on the estimated infrastructure burden, Sedway Group concluded that from a private development perspective, the location, amount, and types of development envisioned in the Plan were financially feasible under current and near-term market conditions. Because the City’s policy direction is that new development in the Specific Plan area must pay for its own infrastructure, and that the City’s and Agency’s financial positions do not allow for consideration of subsidy or advance funding of the needed infrastructure, Sedway Group estimated appropriate development fees supported by each land use. Sedway Group also commented on various other financing mechanisms the City could use to facilitate infrastructure improvements, including tax increment financing, federal and state grants, private sector financing, special assessment districts, and Mello-Roos community facilities districts.
While with CBRE Consulting I assisted DuPont’s in its efforts to plan for the redevelopment and reuse of a 375 acre former plant site in the San Francisco Bay Area. This assignment has included an evaluation of potential uses and disposition strategies, as well as advice on potential near term partial dispositions. Directed a multi-disciplinary planning team (land planner, civil engineer, and traffic consultant) in preparing a California Specific Plan for reuse of the site for submittal to the City for approval.