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Township Square opening draws hundreds

Development on Valley Avenue features unique brownstone architecture

Hundreds turned out last Saturday for the official opening of Township Square, a new and unique community of two- and three-story brownstone-styled homes between Interstate 680 and Valley Avenue just south of the Gateway Center and Safeway supermarket on Bernal Avenue.

The $1-million-plus homes range in size from 2,800 to 3,600 square feet and from three to four bedrooms. Elevators are options on the three-story homes at a cost of $42,800.

A 210-unit apartment building complex will be built later this year along the I-680 side of the development, shielding the freeway and its noise from Township Square. Rents are expected to range from the high $2,000s for a one-bedroom apartment to up to the $4,000s for three bedrooms.

That complex will include a lifestyle center for tenants and Township Square owners that will include a swimming pool, bocce courts, a tot lot and business center with work spaces and meeting rooms.

"We're seeing a lot of interest from people who work in Pleasanton or the Silicon Valley and spend part of their time working at home," said Dave Sanson, CEO of DeNova Homes of Concord, who started the development firm with wife Lori in 1989.

"Township Square is very typical of what we do," Sanson said. "These homes feature a very timeless architecture, a brownstone style that has been with us for centuries."

"You see this on the East Coast, especially in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia and Boston," he added. "But it hasn't caught on here on the West Coast. We wanted to do something different here in Pleasanton."

The homes, with their towering heights made taller because of high ceilings on each floor, have caught the eye of commuters on I-680 who have pulled off at the Bernal exit to take a look. Last week, the screened fencing was taken down and streets opened, with an entrance to Township Square off Valley Avenue at East Gate Way.

The south end of the site opens onto Bernal Community Park, a 37-acre public park with trails and sports fields. The north end opens onto the Gateway Center shopping center.

"From my perspective, it's the architecture that makes this such a unique development," said Lori Sanson. "It really lends an amazing level of character and a neighborhood feel that clearly has been drawing many people that would like to call Township Square home."

Prospective buyers touring the three-story brownstones Saturday said they found the contemporary features inside conducive to a casual lifestyle with spacious kitchens and living areas on the second floor, with bedrooms and privacy on the third floor. At the ground level are garages and open areas for converting into office space, play areas or an extra bedroom.

Once the apartment complex is built, the Bernal site will be completed, some 15 years after the 520-acre property was acquired by Greenbriar Community Homes and associated developers from the city of San Francisco, which had owned the site since the 1930s.

As part of the purchase agreement, the developers gave 37 acres to the city of Pleasanton for public uses while also receiving zoning approvals for homes and apartments, which have since been built along Valley Avenue.

Initially, the site where Township Square and the new apartment complex are being built was zoned for seven four-story office buildings. That zoning was later changed to allow residential development after the office building market collapsed at the start of the recent recession.

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