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New San Ramon City Center design debuts

Original post made on Jun 12, 2014

Dozens filed in to a Dougherty Valley theater Tuesday night for the unveiling of the new San Ramon City Center design, gazing at a display of architectural graphics in the lobby and a slideshow image projected on the screen.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 6:30 PM

Comments (25)

Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Jun 12, 2014 at 7:24 am


Not just ugly. That thing looks FUGLY.

If you’re going to spend all that money, why not build something pretty?

What an eyesore.

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

To spcwt. I went to the presentation and I think it will be great. I hope you stay away.

Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Jun 12, 2014 at 9:36 am

No need to be nasty.

I’m just trying to help you guys out. Don’t make a big mistake you’ll later regret.

It’s like if a friend told you they were going to do something really stupid, like get a tribal band tattoo, or move to Tracy, or attend a Nickelback concert. You’d try to talk them out of it, wouldn’t you?

Posted by JRM
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Ho Humm....another massive movie theater and retail complex. Pleasant Hill 2.0 version. Plus Phase II...500 apartments an upscale bowling alley and, hold your breath....A NEW GYM !!
Woo Hoo---

Posted by Hesitant
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 13, 2014 at 12:06 am

It sounds great at first, but I fear it may become another Blackhawk Plaza -- pretty on the outside but minimal foot traffic (due to a lack of mass-appeal stores and restaurants). Outside of the normal lunch time crowd and the movie crowds, Blackhawk Plaza is a ghost town. A movie theater may bring in crowds, but they don't usually linger around to shop. If San Ramon is aiming for an unique regional retail destination, this project has to get some key tenants that will pull people away from shopping in Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, Concord, or even the South Bay (i.e., Valley Fair/Santana Row). The fact that the two anchor department store spaces are now removed, and the total size of the plaza district has been reduced by almost half leaves you to wonder if Sunset is having issues attracting marquee tenants to the new space. Having the plaza being designed by a well-known architect may bring you buzz in the short term, but it is the quality and appeal of the shops and restaurants that will sustain the project and make it appealing to locals and neighboring cities. Otherwise, I do somewhat agree with the other poster that this plaza may end up being another bland surburban downtown revitalization/big box store project, or a glorified strip mall (aka Shops at Bishop Ranch). The Tri-Valley is already saturated with those types of retail developments. I am all for building more retail options in the city, but if we are to add more congestion and this type of development in the middle of San Ramon, it should be something that is worthy of the location and provides something different than all the other existing strip malls in the surrounding area. I'm hoping that I am proven wrong and the project lives up to the hype and is successful, but I'm also concerned that this latest change in plan and project delays may place the development at a disadvantage compared with all other existing developments in the area.

Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jun 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

Uh-oh, City centers designed by architectural firms for large corporate land owners are a recipe for designs that prop up architect egos, are driven by the anticipated profits generated by leasing and sales for the owners, and focus on designs that reduce construction costs. And the complicit nature of a city driven by getting a "City Hall" built for free, which means they are on the profit take as well. In fact, since the City is jointly pursuing their own government office, they are in effect in cahootz with the developers. Thank goodness they gave up the "anchor" tenant conceptual plan, but they did that out of necessity because what anchor tenant would want to sandwich themselves between the Broadway Plaza in WC and the Mall in Pleasanton... obviously none of the major usual suspects. And if they were to go after a "Walmart" as their anchor tenant, they would be laughed out of office. So ask yourselves, does San Ramon really need another retail plaza surrounded by office with some apartments thrown into the mix? San Ramon already has way to many strip-mall shopping areas, and Bolinger Canyon is a major pass thru street, in fact bordering on being a highway into Dougherty Valley, and what does this development do but stick another major Stop Light between the freeway and points east.

I would be willing to bet that if the Movieplex were pulled from the mix, this entire house of cards development would collapse.
Good luck, the seeds for a long term disaster have been sewn...

Posted by E. Nuffalreddy
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Jeeeeez......nothing can please you folks. I am a 22-year San Ramon resident and I have looked at that barren parcel of dirt far too long. I'm not a city employee nor do I have any financial interest in this development. What do you propose be put there? How about we make it a vegetable garden cooperative for the residents? This has long since been approved, the risk is all private risk. Do you think they just blindly planned this out? They certainly did demographic studies and know what will work. It's called a Pro-Forma. There's always risk. I really believe that no matter what is planned, there will be the minority of whiners who just like to complain for no other reason than to hear themselves. STFU. Contribute something, will you! All you folks have is criticism. Very impressive. Let's mark down your baseless comments and record them for a revisit in 10 years - and then we can see if you were right or wrong. Getting tired of the droning on and on.

Posted by Long time Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 13, 2014 at 2:16 pm

To Enuffalready: Rejection of all those with critical comments as "whiners making baseless comments" is simplistic and ignores factors that do need be addressed. Bollinger already is frequently way to crowded with cars. Two additional traffic lanes (one in the East direction, & one in the West direction) need to be added now for the existing level of traffic, and this need exists presently, before the city center is built. (The new city center project is contingent on adding only one additional lane in the West direction.)

San Ramon does need a place where people would want to go, not just to shop, or go out to an expensive dinner, but also to just be there & maybe get an ice cream or coffee & then have a place to sit or walk, or window shop, out of the hot sun & simply enjoy being there.

I like the creativity and passion of the Italian architect, but hanging a corrugated stainless steel fascia off the top portion of the building leaves a bit to be desired, although that fascia does serve as a cost effective way to hide the parking garage located above the shops on the first floor. Think of the Dublin Bart station that has the stainless steel roof which gets really hot on a blistering summer day. Just because Raymond Lowey designed streamlined corrugated stainless steel trains back in the late 40's, and Airstream trailers used polished aluminum bodies, is not adequate justification for the corrugated metal in this application. After all, the JU-52 had a corrugated aluminum skin, but there aren't many of those flying around now (obviously totally unrelated, but thought this would confuse all those non critical thinkers out there). Maybe the likeable and creative Italians can put their thinking caps on and come up with an alternate material for the fascia, or if they really are set on metal, why not have them (Alex Mehran & his Italian architect)set up a full scale mock-up hung off some rented construction scaffolding at the same height as it would be on the city center project, The length of fascia would only need be 10' or 15' long so the actual "look" of it could be appreciated, & do that on the adjacent vacant land (& yes, guy-wire it down well for the wind). Yes San Ramonians, that would require a little non-standard creativity, but I know you could do it, not everything has to be done by your uncreative "process".

Posted by Pmae
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I dislike the modern design. I was hoping the center would look more like Santa Row in design. This is a giant eyesore way too modern looking, ugly! I like the idea of restaurants, coffee shops, small retail, etc. There is no need for two large dept. stores anyway, just more traffic..........

Posted by John Madison
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 13, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I had business meetings in Glendale, CA last week and we went to lunch in the "Americana" redeveloped area. Very impressive. That would have worked very nicely here.

Posted by Paul
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Steel, concrete and glass. Looks like another walnut creek. Why not do something that would be different than the 100 other places you could drive to.

What about a design that is unique to the area, say an old European city design, with outdoor beer garden and a clocktower center plaza are for outdoor dining ?

Something you can not get elsewhere and would be able to compete with the quant Danville and Pleasanton downtowns.

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Jun 14, 2014 at 5:54 pm

What LTR, Pmae, and Paul said.
It's not so much ugly/fugly in the sense it looks like a 80 year old Detroit motel. It's that it looks like a modern art museum. I get that this motif might be okay for a movie theater entry area, but not for the whole center. Whether it has a Santana Row vibe or something a lot more quaint, there is a lot of room for improvement going by the rendering. Sterile is the best adjective to describe it, and it's hardly anyone's idea of pretty.

As to the sarcasm of a community veggie garden, sure, why not? Why not an expanded park? Why not more trees instead of aluminum and plate glass? San Ramon may not have a commercial high vacancy rate now, but Danville has been slogging through one for most of the last ten years. If you build it, it doesn't mean they will come. Whoever "they" is.

Posted by RESIDENT
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 16, 2014 at 6:49 am

We have lived without a center for 25 years. Clearly we dont need a center. What a waste. The time to have created such a center was 25 years ago.

Posted by RESIDENT
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

Such a new square will just be another place for Windemere residents to congregate. Forget the square thus reducing traffic and let them continue to enjoy living in Windemere.

Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Jun 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Don’t make it look like Europe. This is California. Make it look like California.

With a Spanish name like San Ramon, you might draw on California’s early Spanish history for inspiration like Stanford University did or the club house at Bridges Golf Course and the surrounding homes, or like Old Town Los Gatos or Santa Barbara.

Also nice would be American Craftsman Style like you find in Berkeley, Pasadena, and the North Park District of San Diego. Danville library and Danville Rose Garden shops are nice. Those all say California too.

The flat roof, sleek glass, geometric sharp angles are better left in the 1980’s dustbin. They don’t fit here.

Cars on the roof may be practical, but it makes the building look odd, like it’s upside down. Better to hide the cars in a parking structure like they do in Walnut Creek.

Belvedere may be famous, but his work blows.

It’s none of my business, of course. I don’t live in San Ramon. Just trying to help.

Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jun 17, 2014 at 10:32 am

It is true, San Ramon desires a City Center... there is no "downtown." Where is San Ramon? What is San Ramon? It is a collection of strip mall developments on the east and west sides of the major freeway accesses at Crow Canyon, Bollinger Canyon and Alcosta, surrounded by monster housing developments and industrial office parks, with huge parking lots all over the place... It embodies everything horrible about modern city development over the last 40 years. I am glad people are thinking about how to rescue this abomination called San Ramon.

So is the answer to put a movieplex in with retail shops. Really, are the people of San Ramon really clamoring for more chain retail stores, more cell phone company outlets, more restaurants. San Ramon will do fine without any more of this materialist junk.

So what is wrong with a park? Hmmm. Developer doesn't make money, City doesn't get its City Hall. Therein lies the other huge problem, the motivations of the owners and city management. When Central Park and Golden Gate Park were created, making money was not the goal. And now look at how much they contribute to the dynamic cultural aspects of those cities. San Ramon? they pretend that the EBRPD parks fit the same bill... no they don't. Or how about the mini-parks that dot all the developments, used as dog walking venues and play structures for kids, basically put in because they count as "open" space towards their development permits.

Maybe it is time for a modern city to create a culturally driven park based city center. In fact what city in the area has such? People need a haven from cars. San Ramon is the epitome of car based culture. The only real access point into the proposed area is by car. It is bounded by high use arterials, so walking is not an option.

There is absolutely no vision in this proposal. It reeks. All I can imagine is a bunch of architects sitting around a glass enclosed meeting room in a modern office building throwing a few tired old hackneyed ideas for a profit driven development. This is not civic driven by any means. San Ramon residents should vomit on this project. Revolt now! Wake up!!!
There are so many things going on these days that they could design around to get people in that are NOT movieplexes that bring people in at night. First of all they could connect into the park to the east. They could create an environment that could do music in the parks, afternoons and evenings. They could hold art fairs and steal the Danville car shows. And yes, they could even incorporate some aspects of a city garden. Trade other land with the developer somewhere else and create a city/culture driven park. I love how they are selling parking on the roof. What a joke. It is parking on the roof because it is cheaper than parking underground, that is the only reason. If this place doesn't have adequate parking it is doomed, doomed!

Here is an example of vision... Ever consider a BART WC to BART PH trolley? It could mainly follow the freeway center median, except in San Ramon come inland and stop at Bollinger and Crow Canyon, with stops at Danville and Alamo and Alcosta. That would bring people in without their cars. But I digress, who wants to give up their car? the youth of today, that's who.
The 680 corridor is screaming for a north south trolley, not that miserable excuse for a bus line they have today.
More vision, get Governor Brown to abandon the high speed rail abomination and put the money into the 680 N/S trolley. In fact I would run the N/S trolley into Pleasanthill, Concord and the 580 office complexes, so that people can better commute with a bike. Do you know how many people would live within 3 relatively flat miles of this trolley line? many.
Let's get some vision going for a car-reduced future.

Posted by San Ramon Proud
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 17, 2014 at 8:41 pm

That is why you live there and we live here. You don't have to visit if you don't want to.

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Well, well, "San Ramon Proud" if you really think a three story parking garage masquerading as a "city center" is the best answer for San Ramon, your standards are way too low. Maybe you just don't get out and about much either.

Posted by not happy
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm

This project is a joke. San Ramon has no character and this is going to add to it. The San Ramon City Center was a project I belived was going to give San Ramon a place to meet, hang out,and spend the night out but it looks like another strip mall with a movie theater. Who's running this City? Like I said this project is a JOKE!!! I guess I'll just keep going to Danville.

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Did any of you go to the presentation at DV high school 2 weeks ago? Probably not. Without attending you don't rally get a good sense of this project.

It is very hard to get a sense of this project from a few small photos. 300,000 square feet of retail space around a plaza the size of a football field I think will work great. There will be about 20 places to eat and there will be some kind of entertainment or special event in the plaza every weekend.

When it is complete, I think you will be impressed.

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I went to the presentation at DV High 2 weeks ago. The Italian architect who made the presentation was likeable and charismatic, but if you are a critical thinker, you will see this city center project for what it really is, a parking garage structure, hidden by corrugated shiny metal, with a one story strip mall located on the ground floor.----& THAT"S IT!

The San Ramon City Council is misnamed; the council's name in actuality is: Alex Mahron's/Sunset Development's "Rubber Stamp Committee". Somebody on the council has got to stand up an shout "the emperor is wearing no clothes at all".

Posted by Drc
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I did go to the DV presentation on the mall, center. I feel compelled to agree with a lot of the previous comments. There really is nothing that I see that makes it iconic. I sat near John King during the presentation. As I became more perplexed, I started watching his face. He looked even more confused than I. I was surprised at how deservedly kind his article about it was.

Maybe do a huge roof garden plus solar on the rooftop pkg. otherwise no one will ever park there. Get tenants that offer more than the tired stuff that surrounds us along with places for basics...not 21 Forever or Sephora. Build condos and townhouses now or you won't have any life there. Bishop Ranch workers will not use their hour lunch to find a bus or drive there.

Posted by Drc
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 23, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I meant "reservedly" kind. However, he is more of an observer than a critic.

Posted by Zane Truesdale
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I believe the picture was of a very busy weekend there cause otherwise I picture it being empty. I wouldnt want to be a retailer there.

Posted by Long Time San Ramonian
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

The new City Center is that in name only. The city of San Ramon needs to be broken into two parts, two separate cities; the "City of Bishop Ranch" (which the present city council represents to the exclusion of people that actually live here; just look at recent council actions), and the "Real City of San Ramon" (which needs a new charter & a fresh election with council members that actually are responsive to and represent the real residents).

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