Redevelopment ideas being floated for Concord Naval Weapons Station

A university campus and research center an option.


Perry Continente

The current Concord Naval Weapons station which is to be redeveloped.

Dale Satre, @DaleSatre

Part of the Concord Naval Weapons Station could get repurposed for a university campus and research center, if local politicians and stakeholders have their way.

The Concord City Council established the 14-member Blue Ribbon Committee for Campus District Revisioning Project (BRC), to evaluate the former naval base’s potential use for an institution of higher learning. The BRC will hold nine meetings from September 2018 to March 2019.

Contra Costa Community College District Chancellor Dr. Fred Wood is also one of the BRC’s members.

“This Committee will play a critical role in evaluating campus trends in higher public education, research and development parks, and innovation districts as well as funding and financing mechanisms,” said Concord Vice Mayor Carlyn Obringer in a press release. “The City is fortunate to have so many experienced leaders who are willing to volunteer their time to this effort and who are committed to bringing a much needed campus for higher learning to our community.”  

The base was established in 1942 for the Navy to hold ammunition during World War II, and was the site of the infamous Port Chicago explosion in 1943 that claimed the lives of 320 service members. The Navy fully vacated the site in 2005 and left it up to the city of Concord as to what to do with the land, which totaled 12,600 acres according to the BRC’s website.

“I’ve driven by the base for 22 years,” said Governing Board Member Greg Enholm. “I want to see it used to benefit the community.

Enholm served on Concord’s Community Advisory Committee for the base redevelopment initiatives from 2008 to 2009, and has been active in representing non-Concord residents in the project. During his time on the committee, he argued against the proposal to build a stadium in favor of building a world-class sports park. Enholm is also the trustee for Ward 5 of the Contra Costa Community College District.

According to a report by Concord City Manager Valerie Barone, the BRC will review baseline information on local socio-economic and education demographics, and study the proposed campus’ place in the overall base reuse project. The BRC will also study financing options for a campus and discuss what type of institutions Concord should try attracting to the land, while reporting these findings periodically to the Concord City Council.

The next BRC meeting will be at the Concord Senior Center Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. The Committee will review academic campus design and development ideas.

As for the future, a lot of things still have yet to be decided and a solid timeline for redevelopment is still unclear.

“These things take a lot of time,” said Enholm. “As for what ultimately happens, we’ll have to wait and see.”