I remember when the big, white eight-story high-rise at the corner of Newell Avenue and South Main Street was a Security Pacific National bank. In fact, I think I opened my first bank account there when I was in high school. I’ve since learned the bank was founded in 1963 by Fortney Hillman “Pete” Stark, Jr. Yes, that Pete Stark, who in 1973 became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives as the congressman for the 13th district.
In February 2008, the (now-defunct) East Bay Business Times reported that the 51,343-square-foot high-rise had been sold to a developer. There was talk that the building, which sits on 1.3 acres, would be transformed into a boutique hotel.
I’ve been told that a preliminary application regarding this high-rise has been recently submitted to the City of Walnut Creek for consideration. No boutique hotel on the horizon. Instead, the proposal would involve demolishing the high-rise, mostly because it would need major earthquake retrofitting—a very costly endeavor, my source tells me.
Under the application, the developer would replace the high-rise and an adjacent 0.62-acre adjacent parcel with a mixed-use, four-story commercial and 50-unit residential complex. My source tells me that this complex would not include the Newell Promenade, the strip that includes the former Taxi’s and the new Little Star Café.
This new complex would stretch along South Main Street “up to and including the 7-Eleven” by Las Trampas Creek. The proposed housing units would include flats and two-story homes above ground-floor retail storefronts. Parking for residents and customers would be built underground.
The developer, Alamo Essex, is a joint venture that brings together two companies, the Alamo Group and the Essex Property Trust of Palo Alto, a publicly traded real estate investment trust. The Alamo Group “successfully revitalized’ several retail projects in downtown Walnut Creek, including McCovey’s Restaurant, Maria Maria, 1515 Restaurant Lounge, and Bing Crosby’s Restaurant and Piano Lounge.