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Why Concord Could Be The Next Big Thing

With escalating costs now stretching from S.F. to a surging Oakland, Concord is throwing its name into the hat, reaping the benefits of the pricey market. We chatted with Concord's longtime economic development and housing manager, John Montagh, who tells Bisnow the city is shining like it never has before. 

The cost of Class-A commercial space is as much as four times less than San Francisco and nearly 30% less than neighboring Walnut Creek. And John says Concord’s vacancy rate has decreased by nearly 6% since 2012. While other cities saddle business with zoning restrictions, Concord has a “No Red Tape” philosophy at its one-stop permitting center to ensure quick and efficient processing, he says. John's been working on expanding business in the city for 20 years, and the city has now emerged as the job center for Contra Costa County. As the largest city in the county, it's ripe for development, he says. 

Concord businesses cover everything from corporate office users and advanced manufacturing down to unique mom-and-pops. All those businesses are key to making it a diverse location for a community to live and work in, he says, but going forward, the focus is marketing big chunks of Class-A office space.

Couple the stats with the fact that Concord has the largest available amount of BART-contiguous Class-A commercial real estate in the Bay Area and tenants from S.F. and Oakland could grow more interested in the city. AmTrust North America was one of first S.F. companies to expand and relocate offices into Concord. John says Swift Plaza is a top option, offering 180k SF of contiguous space. Multifamily development is following, and Concord is one of few communities that get big densities per acre around its downtown BART station, which is significant in that relative communities wouldn't come close to that, he says. Nearby, two blocks from BART, multifamily developers are looking to plant up to 300 units.

John says he's seeing a range of tenants take interest, including finance and medical device companies. Concord is running at $2.25/SF a month, whereas S.F. charges $11/SF. There's a hot mix of restaurants in the historic downtown area, including Hop Grenade, which opened a microbrew operation and taproom. Lazy Dog is also a hit, he says. In addition, Lennar Urban and Catellus Development are the two finalists to build one of the biggest real estate projects the Bay Area has ever seen. By the end of September a developer will be picked for the 2,500-acre master development.