Groundbreaking for long-awaited Walnut Creek Transit Village

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- It took the better part of two decades for the shovels to finally go in on new development at the Walnut Creek BART station.

But finally, the first ground has been broken on the Walnut Creek Transit Village, which will eventually house nearly 600 new units of market-rate rental units.

RELATED: BART unveils plans for transit village in Walnut Creek

"It comes after more than 15 years of planning, design, re-design, and re-design, traffic circulation debates, questions about where we would put the busses," said Walnut Creek Mayor Cindy Silva, "as well as a a monumental amount of community meetings and environmental review, and then the great recession."

The transit village will also include about 26,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

"The value set of the Millenials is completely changing. Today housing is seen more as a service. It's more transitionary in terms of a commodity in their eyes," said Bradley Griggs, Managing Partner of Blake Griggs Properties. "We truly believe that this project will be one of the finest TOD's in the Bay Area.

RELATED: BART to build housing at stations

In its Transit-Oriented Development, or TOD, plan, BART pledges to build 7000 affordable housing units on its property by 2040. At least 20 percent of the units at any given station must be affordable, or 35% overall.

The Walnut Creek project was approved before BART adopted its TOD plan.

In Walnut Creek, there is no affordable housing on the BART site. However, the developer has paid $7 million dollars in fees toward building affordable units at another location in town.

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Those units could take many more years to develop and build.

"What we ended up with here was not exactly what was promised to the residents of Walnut Creek, or even to the BART riders even over the last several years," said BART Director Debora Allen, who does not believe BART should be in the housing business.

Allen is especially concerned that at the Walnut Creek station, at least some of the $3 daily parking spaces have been replaced with spots that cost between $15 and $18 dollars per day. "What's missing in this new project is affordable parking."

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