Will a shuttered former newspaper production facility become home to a sprawling cluster of indoor sports courts and activities? Walnut Creek planners seem to think it can – after a lot of work and some expense by the facility’s new owners.
The city has been looking for a suitable use for the former Contra Costa Times production and warehousing facility at Shadelands Business Park, a sprawling two-story, 180,000 square foot structure which fell victim to the bottom line cost cutting of local newspapers and which was acquired by Hall Equities Group of Walnut Creek last year. That group says they have a vision for the complex, and that vision includes indoor sports courts – lots of them.
City Planners have expressed some concern about what they termed a “spot zoning” approach to changing the building’s designated use, but they also expressed interest in the concept, which would keep residential development of the area at bay and provide apparently much-desired parquet for local sports teams clamoring for court time.
Hall Equities is proposing to convert a six acre portion of the site to an indoor recreation facility, including about 85,000 square feet of high-bay building areas for multiple basketball and indoor-soccer courts, supported by about 300 outdoor surface parking spaces nearby. The two-story office building and remaining parking areas are not part of the group’s proposal, leaving about eight acres for another use.
Preliminary review by the city council noted that the plan was limited to “existing buildings” and was appealing as a creative way to “reuse otherwise obsolete buildings in the business park without opening the area to a new wave of uses, possibly including outdoor fields.”
Staff planners have recommended that the Planning Commission review the proposed zoning change, and make a recommendation to the council on an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to allow Indoor Commercial Recreation as a conditionally permitted use in the B-P, Business Park District.
If approved, the project is expected to make the organizers and members of local sports teams extremely happy. How about you?