April Walnut Creek Mayor's Message
Apr 04, 2016 01:40PM
● By Loella Haskew
Loella Haskew, Mayor of Walnut Creek
While much attention has been given to the transformation of our downtown, there is another part of Walnut Creek that is experiencing an exciting renaissance of its own – the Shadelands Business Park, which fronts Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove roads.
Earlier in the year, the Walnut Creek City Council voted to update zoning regulations for the Shadelands Business Park. This vote came after a lot of analysis and discussion about how to bring the 1970s office center into the 21st century. This renewal was increasingly necessary because the park was experiencing high vacancy rates which would continue to rise if something was not done to modernize the business park concept.
Fortunately, several opportunities came up to rethink the area. Safeway decided to change its property from office space at the corner of Oak Park and Ygnacio Valley Roads to a new shopping area known as The Orchards. The block is currently undergoing its transformation right now. There will be a Safeway store, other shops, restaurants, a park, and senior housing.
Owners and businesses in the Shadelands, with the assistance of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and the city, put together a Property Owners Business Improvement District, in which they agreed to tax themselves to pay for some much-needed services and amenities, such as a free shuttle from Pleasant Hill BART to jobs in the business park. With those changes in place, other developers began to think creatively about what new uses could fit into the Shadelands.
With its proximity to the John Muir Hospital (no comma) and a branch of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital right in the Shadelands, the business park is a natural place for ancillary facilities that are part of the modernization of medical treatment. With the increased interest in micro brewing, the Shadelands was a perfect place to set up operations, especially since Calicraft Brewing Company has located its headquarters there. With the resources of a highly educated labor pool, locating research facilities in Shadelands would enable businesses to take advantage of our local residents. Hence, the vote for the change in zoning was important to enable the rejuvenation to thrive.
One of the most creative new opportunities for the Shadelands Business Park was the transformation of the huge, empty, former Contra Costa Times campus into a sports complex. Much of the building is still undergoing the necessary changes, but the first component is now open. The Ultimate Fieldhouse has four regulation-size, state-of-the-art basketball courts, a separate training court featuring five baskets and shooting machines. There are 32 baskets in the facility! There are also four volleyball courts and a number of other opportunities for youth activities. This unique facility even hosts pickle ball during the day. The organization’s website is http://ultimatefieldhouse.com/ index.html. I visited the facility and it is spectacular. Watch for announcements of additions to the sports complex.
Among the tenants already calling Shadelands home are Del Monte’s research facility; Tony La Russa’s innovative Animal Rescue Foundation, ARF; the high-tech Joint Genome Institute; the solar industry’s Quick Mount PV; the entrepreneurial CaliCraft Brewery; and a number of distinctive, state-of-the- art medical facilities, including UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital (previously known as Oakland Children’s Hospital), John Muir Orthopaedic Specialists, and Kaiser Permanente medical offices.
There are still more opportunities to join this exciting revitalization. Please contact Ethan Bindernagel, economic development manager, at [email protected] for more information.
Safety tip: Pedestrians, be sure that you have the attention of the driver of the car near you before you cross the street, in the crosswalk or at the corner.