When the overall plan for the Bernal property was approved in 2000, allowing the city and county of San Francisco to sell 180 acres to Greenbriar Homes and deed the city the remaining 320 acres for park and active recreation uses, it included 581 homes and apartments and 762,000 square-feet of office space.
The office complex was to have been eight, four-story buildings. Of course, about the time the City Council was approving the plan after years of contentious debate, the dot.com bubble was starting to pop. Demand for those offices evaporated when the bubble popped.
At about the same time, the former Kaiser Technology Center on Sunol Boulevard was approved for redevelopment after a sale to Applied Biosystems (now Life Technologies). That approval called for seven two- and three-story buildings totaling about 960,000 square feet. To date, only the initial two buildings have been constructed.
Tonight, the council will consider further remaking the Bernal property plan. The apartments and the single-family homes were built and have been occupied since the early 2000s, but there was simply no demand for additional office space in Pleasanton. There is still plenty of space available. The Class A space that South Bay Development would have built has seen improving rents lately (back to 2007 levels), but the vacancy rate is still 8.6 percent.
The revised plan calls for 97 single family homes and 210 apartments. The land was one of a number of parcels that were rezoned for high density housing last year to comply with a court order stemming from a law suit that the city lost.
If the council grants its approval, it will conclude the remaking of the private development plan for that site. Earlier, the council approved the Gateway Shopping Center that has thrived with the second Safeway store anchoring it and a number of dining options. Safeway opened last year and has been quite successful. The owners have since moved to a second phase that added a CVS Pharmacy to the center.
These welcome changes demonstrate why it is important to plan, but also critical to be willing to adjust to the market. The additional high density housing in Hacienda Business Park near the BART station will enhance the park and set it up to continue to evolve to serve an ever-changing business community.