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Livermore council to discuss future of downtown redevelopment

Agreements for Eden Housing, black box theater on agenda, plus Housing Element update and South Livermore Valley water initiative
Park3 (1)
Rendering of the completed Eden Housing downtown development, featuring two four-story buildings and Veterans Park situated between them.

The Livermore City Council is set Monday to debate terms of development agreements for two projects key to the redevelopment of downtown -- the Eden Housing affordable housing complex and a proposed black box theater.

The city continues to back plans from nonprofit developer Eden Housing Inc. to build a 130-unit residential community with a public park at the southeast corner of Railroad Avenue and L Street, with an updated disposition, development and loan agreement on this week's council agenda to further facilitate the project now mired in ongoing litigation, according to city staff.

"Some of these modifications include: allowing for an earlier transfer of the property to Eden in its current undivided configuration; the city's retention of air rights above the project to address newly adopted state legislation AB 721; and, enumerating several key financial commitments and agreements that would be under the authority of the city manager to execute," Fran Reisner, city housing programs manager, wrote in a staff report.

"It also expedites implementation by authorizing the city manager to execute financial commitments and agreements consistent with this agreement and all other City Council approvals," Reisner added. "In addition, the schedule of performance would be extended to accommodate the CEQA litigation filed against the project."

The council originally approved the Eden Housing proposal to develop city-owned land in the heart of downtown with affordable housing in May 2021.

Citizen group Save Livermore Downtown soon sued the city over the project, citing environmental concerns. Their petition was denied in Alameda County Superior Court earlier this year, prompting the group to pursue an appeal to the state appellate court last month.

Another piece of the downtown redevelopment puzzle is bringing a black box theater, envisioned as a flexible performance space for 100 to 200 seats as well as accessory spaces to support arts and cultural uses, according to assistant city manager Christine Martin.

After nearly four years of on again, off again negotiations with Shakespeare's Associates Inc. to develop the venue, city staff is presenting a proposed disposition and development agreement on Monday to establish the terms of the sale of city-owned land downtown for $10,000 for the new boutique theater on the southwest portion of the Stockmen's Park easement, Martin wrote in a staff report.

The regular council meeting, which will be held online-only, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Read the full agenda here.

In other business:

Councilmembers will review the city's draft 2023-31 Housing Element update.

They will discuss a request from Tri-Valley Conservancy for the city to sponsor a ballot initiative "to protect water quality and agriculture in the South Livermore Valley."

The council will consider declaring a local emergency and reauthorize teleconference meetings for city legislative bodies, in accordance with Assembly Bill 361.

In closed session, councilmembers will talk with city staff about the latest update on the contentious labor negotiations with the firefighters union. They will also confer with legal counsel about a lawsuit brought against the city by D.L. Falk Construction Inc.