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Developer drops North Concord BART housing project without explanation

CONCORD -- A 360-unit housing development planned for the North Concord BART station has stalled after the developer cancelled the project with no explanation.  

There is speculation the move may have something to do with what's happening on the other side of the fence.

Two years ago, BART chose a large, multi-national company called Brookfield Residential to develop the vast parking lot of the North Concord Station into a 360-unit transit village with a quarter of the homes reserved for affordable housing. 

It was recently revealed that -- back in April -- Brookfield sent a letter to BART terminating their involvement with the project without giving a single reason why they were walking away.

"It would have been nice if we would have had a reason, because we need to learn from things," said BART Board member Debora Allen.  "And if there was a compelling reason, something that BART did wrong that Brookfield could have shared with us, we as board members can make sure that we don't make that mistake again."

But Allen suspects the decision was connected to the lack of progress on developing the huge Concord Naval Weapons Station property, that sits across the fence from the BART station.  

Allen said BART is pausing the North Concord development until a clear re-use plan is decided for the Weapons Station property, which will one day house more than 20,000 people.

"Really, it only makes sense," said Allen. "This property right here [North Concord BART] will be the transportation hub of the entire development of the Concord Naval Weapons Station."

Allen said it may be some time before the North Concord site is revisited.  She says BART is now focusing its housing efforts on the North Berkeley and Ashby projects, which are further along in the development process.  

Concord City Councilmember Edi Birsan isn't shocked that Brookfield bailed on the project. He said Brookfield also wanted to be the developer for the Weapons Station, When the city selected a different company, he thinks they lost interest in the BART project.

"It was no surprise to me that, after a while, since they didn't get the Naval Weapons Station, that they would just hang out BART and just walk away.  And that's exactly what they did," he said.

Birsan is no fan of Brookfield. He thinks in the future it would be wise for both BART and Concord to select a smaller, more accountable developer for their housing projects.

"The world is a dangerous place," he said.  "And if you're going to wrestle with alligators, you pick the smallest alligator and you wrap as much stuff around their mouth as you can!  And that's how you go forward."


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