Walnut Creek probes mixing car dealerships with new housing

WALNUT CREEK — People could one day dwell or work immediately over where by they purchase their upcoming car or truck if an car dealer’s proposal for mixing dealership office environment place with hundreds of housing units gets to be a reality — an thought that metropolis officials are open to exploring.

The Metropolis Council on Tuesday took the initially phase toward rezoning 10 parcels owned by Toyota Walnut Creek to combine multi-household housing, lodge or other non-residential complexes with vehicle dealership utilizes. Programs are much from concrete, but the idea is that condominium models, lodge rooms or other office environment place would be produced on prime of dealership offices and car showrooms, with general developing heights capped at 50 ft.

The enterprise at the middle of the proposed transform is Toyota Walnut Creek, which desires to increase its dealership property by six acres around its existing place on North Broadway. At its main, Toyota’s mission is to establish a prototype of a dealership that extends vertically — like, for occasion, a showroom on the ground floor and a sales office environment previously mentioned it. But the enterprise doesn’t want to devote in the eventual dealership building sophisticated by itself.

“It’s an urban dealership it expenses a good deal additional to build, so we had to get innovative,” mentioned Stephen Scanlon of True Development, a San Diego authentic estate enterprise implementing for the zoning transform on behalf of Toyota, at a meeting Tuesday. “(We’re) hunting at more intensity of use — building a making with some ancillary employs higher than and a way to build a money design that supports a a lot extra considerable dealership by working with the offset charges to assistance finance it.”

With a rezoning, the dealership could create several tales for other utilizes, perhaps together with up to 600 housing units across 6 acres.

Walnut Creek has extensive been a hub for auto dealerships, with additional than 20 scattered close to downtown. Vehicle profits account for a third of the city’s tax earnings, in accordance to just one formal.

And whilst times are changing in the retail sector as the coronavirus pandemic potential customers additional individuals to make their buys on the net, a representative for Toyota Walnut Creek assured the council that an industrywide evolution away from in-person sales would probably transfer incredibly little by little.

“The consensus is that automobile dealerships will continue to be,” Scanlon said. “There’s nevertheless a desire to acquire vehicles.”

“For superior-buy, higher-dollar items like automobiles and houses … lots of persons will do their research on-line but they will continue to want that in-human being contact, truly feel and check push,” said Teri Killgore, Walnut Creek’s assistant city manager. “So we really don’t think that dealerships are going absent in the close to long term.”

A conceptual glance at what combined-use, auto dealership and housing complexes could appear like, as offered to the Walnut Creek Metropolis Council at a meeting on Tuesday. (Screenshot) 

New housing advancement is one particular portion of Walnut Creek’s north downtown specific program, an effort and hard work to revitalize the city’s city core with a lot more residents, as properly as corporations that cater to them.

The specific details of the Toyota housing project won’t be spelled out for some time. An advert hoc committee of council members Cindy Silva and Cindy Darling will convey concrete particulars of a doable rezoning back again to the council for thing to consider at a later on day.

Versatility is a key ask in Toyota’s original proposal. Scanlon defined at Tuesday’s meeting that the developer wants to establish sure venture aspects, together with dimensions and scope, on the go as the submit-coronavirus current market for auto product sales will become clearer.

“We consider this is a gain for the town and a acquire for Toyota Walnut Creek,” he said. “We imagine we’ll improve the home tax foundation, assistance employment, strengthen pedestrian activity, and we hope we’re the commence to a vibrant mixed-use district that marries these different non-traditional utilizes collectively.”