Concord Naval Weapons Station transforms from military base to housing community
April 6, 2023

An 890-acre southern portion of Concord Naval Weapons Station could open as soon as 2025

After nearly 80 years of being off-limits to the public, the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California is finally set to be transformed into a brand-new community, which will include housing, commercial and recreational spaces. The project is estimated to cost around $6 billion and will take at least 40 years to complete.

The U.S. Navy has retained ownership of the 2,350-acre site until the City of Concord executes a viable deal with a developer. The city has been working to redevelop the former military facility since the Navy departed the base in 2008, but finding a developer with the resources and patience to finance and build a project of this magnitude has been the biggest challenge.

The military base was established in 1942 as an ammunition depot on Suisun Bay, and over time, it added rocket-testing ranges, missile-assembly buildings and burn areas where munitions were exploded and buried. The base was one of dozens of military facilities that were closed following the end of the Cold War.

The biggest hurdle for the project has been finding a developer with deep pockets and enough patience to finance and build what amounts to a $6 billion new city. Concord chose Lennar Corp. as the master developer in 2016, but the company couldn’t reach a labor deal with unions and dropped out of the project in 2020. The city then selected a consortium as the new master developer in 2021, only to sever ties in February when it couldn’t agree to terms.

The Navy is responsible for environmental remediation of the site and has cleaned up 1,288 acres of the 2,350 acres set aside for the new community. The remaining 1,062 acres still need to be fully restored, a process that will be completed in phases between 2024 and 2030. Fenced-off areas demarcate land that is still contaminated, but most of the park site’s 50 ammunition bunkers will be repurposed as picnic areas, exhibit space, and for other uses.

According to Eva Rose Leavitt, a landscape architect for the East Bay Regional Park District, which is transforming a portion of the site into parklands, “a lot of what we’re doing in this first phase is undoing: removing roads and pavements and converting rail lines to hiking and biking trails to increase species habitat as well as adding minimal amenities for people.”

The future Thurgood Marshall Regional Park will be divided from the planned housing development by Mount Diablo Creek. On clear days, visitors to the park will have sweeping views of Mount Diablo, the Bay Area’s highest peak, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains more than 100 miles to the east. The park is also home to several imperiled species, including the California tiger salamander and the California red-legged frog.

An 890-acre southern portion of the site with less infrastructure and contamination to remove could open as soon as 2025, and officials have begun giving walking tours of the future park.

“For a piece of property this big that’s been closed off from the public since the ’40s, people are just excited to get out and see it,” says Brian Holt, chief of planning at the East Bay Regional Park District.

The transformation of the Concord Naval Weapons Station into a new community is a massive undertaking, but it represents a unique opportunity to repurpose a former military facility and create a vibrant and sustainable new community for the people of California.

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