The saga continues… City Council did not extend the 9-month contract with Lennar Multi-Family Communities, ending the year long relationship. As some might recall, this time last year a number of developers were asked to present plans for the former Lucky Supermarket site, now a half dirt parking lot between First and Railroad Avenue. Lennar was selected as the developer who would then work with City staff, Council, and the community to come up with a final plan. Unfortunately, Lennar didn’t get that opportunity due to the November elections. With fresh Council members, the project is back to square one.
Development is always tricky, you are asking a community of people who already have homes in that area to decide on more people, more traffic, more impact on services; rarely does a community gather to encourage more housing and more people when their needs are met. While I do believe the project should be carefully planned to reflect the actual needs of the community, the wants and priorities of those closest to the situation may not actually understand the real needs of the greater market and what is actually marketable.
For example, we know Livermore is a sought-after community, filling apartments and condos is no problem. However, we have no idea if a 130-room hotel will ever sell out or if a 75,000 square retail center will find an anchor store. In fact, Livermore traditionally has not supported big-box retail outside of the “freeway zone” and vacancy rates of the local hotels are not low enough for hoteliers to be attracted to building a new facility, downtown or otherwise. The market will dictate what makes economic sense, someone just needs to be listening.