By Lisa P. White
Staff Writer, Contra Costa Times/Bay Area News Group
CONCORD -- California State University has dropped plans to build a new campus at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.
The university withdrew because it failed to reach terms with the federal government on a list of conditions the trustees set forth in 2010, according to Jeff Bliss, Cal State East Bay spokesman.
For 22 years, Cal State East Bay has offered a limited selection of degree programs at its branch campus in Concord on Ygnacio Valley Road.
"We remain very interested and focused on higher education in Concord," Bliss said.
As a result of the trustees' decision, for the foreseeable future Contra Costa will remain the only county in the state with a population of at least 1 million that does not have a Cal State or University of California campus.
Michael Wright, executive director of the Local Reuse Authority, made the announcement about the campus during a recent presentation before the City Council. He noted that the property still could be used for a four-year university or a corporate research and development campus.
In 2012, the City Council adopted the Concord Reuse Project Area Plan which calls for building housing, office buildings and commercial space near the North Concord BART station and reserving 69 percent of the property for open space and recreational use.
Plans for redeveloping the property are progressing.
In January, the city launched a search for a master developer for the project. A small group will be invited this summer to submit a formal proposal that includes specific ideas about how and where they would begin developing the property. In October, the council will consider proposals from two or three developers.
The Secretary of the Navy will use two methods to convey the weapons station property, Wright explained. The Navy will use an economic development conveyance to transfer about 2,300 acres to Concord and a public benefit conveyance to transfer the large open space area to the East Bay Regional Park District, and property north of Highway 4 to the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office and Contra Costa Fire for a training center.
Wright expects the Navy to begin transferring the property next year, but it will be a long process.
"It will probably take close to 10 years beyond 2015 for every acre that is out there to be transferred and deeds sent to city, or the park district and county fire and sheriff," he explained.
The Environmental Protection Agency and state health agencies have to certify that the Navy has cleaned up the land before it can transfer the property to the city or the park district.
Wright is working closely with the Navy to ensure that its funding cycle for remediation lines up with the 425 acres the city wants to develop first -- a swath of land between Willow Pass Road and the North Concord BART station plus the part of the city's golf course that sits on Navy land, and the Little League Baseball fields at Willow Pass and Olivera roads.
Developers have said the ideal situation for the first phase of development is a mix of land uses and residential densities so that if one sector of the housing market is floundering, they can build another product, Wright said.
Reuse agency staffers also are working on agreements that will allow the city to mitigate on site for the environmental impacts that will result from development and consulting with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Staffers are also discussing with the park district how to manage the open space and use it for mitigation and passive recreation, pursuing funding sources to replace redevelopment and coordinating with police and other city agencies to address security and access to the property, Wright said.