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Labor Dispute Continues To Delay Concord Naval Weapons Station Development

CONCORD (CBS SF) -- The master developer and the labor consortium poised to build a new 2,300-acre residential and commercial community on the former Concord
Naval Weapons Station land were directed by the Concord City Council Wednesday night to resume meeting and redouble their efforts to break an impasse over labor agreements stalling the project.

Wednesday night's vote 4-0-1 vote - Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer abstained - came in response to an impasse between the Contra Costa County Building and Construction Trades Council, a consortium of area labor unions, and Lennar Concord, LLC, the lead developer of the weapons station remake, formally known as the Concord Community Reuse Project.

The crux of the impasse is whether Lennar can afford to use as many labor union workers as county labor leaders propose. Lennar officials have said that the difference between Lennar's overall labor offer and the Building Trades Council's overall request is about $546 million.

Since June 2018, the developer and the union consortium have met nine times, and reached an impasse in October.

Councilman Edi Birsan offered a motion Wednesday that directed Lennar and the Building Trades County to "refocus" back at the bargaining table and arrive at an agreement they both support. Recommended goals include 40 percent of labor hires being from Concord; an approved apprenticeship program; priority for veterans in hiring and training; and paying at least a "prevailing wage" to hired labor.

These were all recommendations only, as such changes to the long-established "term sheet" of listed requirements of the developer needed to be on the council meeting agenda for changes to be made.

Kofi Bonner, co-COO of FivePoint-Lennar and of the reuse project, told the council he was confused over the new recommendations, and wasn't sure they present a significant way around the impasse. But beyond that, officials from both Lennar and the Building Trades Council on-hand agreed to meet soon, at a date to be determined.

The reuse plan for the 5,000-acre weapons station site - one of the biggest such projects in Northern California - calls for building 13,000 residences, commercial and office space, a college campus and other amenities on 2,300 acres. Most of the development would be near the North Concord-Martinez BART station, just south of state Highway 4 on Concord's northeast edge.

Bonner said Tuesday that his company would walk away from the Naval Weapons Station reuse project if it isn't satisfied with labor agreements. While Bonner and others acknowledged Lennar used all union labor at its recent project at Hunters Point in San Francisco, several people Tuesday night also said San Francisco's housing market makes the extra cost of union labor to developers less affordable in Contra Costa County.

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