Union City Explores Areas for Growth and Development

Here is an interesting article by Zoneil Maharaj about Union City being proactive about growing the city.  Having grown up in Union City and watching it grow over the past 25 years, there is something about the city that stays close to the heart.  Growth and redevelopment would bring in more revenue and enable growth in the city’s infrastructure and public school system.  By making the city more desirable to live in because of jobs, high performing schools, and attractive communities, it would have a positive impact on home values.  

 

-Steven Fong

REALTOR    

 

Union City Explores Areas for Growth and Development

Officials will hold a series of study sessions to examine geographical areas where it can expand to help boost the local economy

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Union City is ripe with opportunities for start-ups and growing tech businesses, city officials say.

Officials will hold a series of study sessions with developers, investors and local business owners beginning next month to examine key areas in Union City for growth and redevelopment. 

Last month, City Council members took a city-wide tour to explore underdeveloped, under-utilized and vacant sites in industrial parks, major corridors and commercial centers spread throughout the city. The selected areas ranged from empty retail spaces at Union Landing to vacant land for potential new businesses.

“We’re trying to facilitate some bigger thinking about economic development,” said council member Emily Duncan. “We need to think bigger as a city. We’ve got to use the sites wisely, and we’ve got to use them practically."

The tour, held Aug. 27, was informational only and meant to generate discussion among officials, said Economic Development Director Joan Malloy.

Officials have since narrowed their focus to four target areas. They hope the upcoming discussions will guide them on how to lure more technology, life science, and research and development companies to the city, Malloy said.

“They tend to have good paying jobs, and a lot of them, as opposed to warehouses, which would have fewer jobs and are not as skilled,” Malloy said.

The idea to explore Union City’s opportunity sites sprang out of an economic development study session and is part of Union City’s efforts to rebrand itself as a tech hub.

“We’re trying to re-invent Union City so it isn’t just a bedroom community,” Duncan said. “We want to make sure we’re going to put businesses that are going to bring more revenue to the city. We don’t want to have to ask citizens to continue to fill in the revenue gap like we did with Measure AA.”

The key areas that will be examined during the upcoming study sessions are:

  • The Horner and Veasy streets area, near Union Sanitary District and Diamond Mine Storage. It contains 19 acres of underused land, including two acres of public roads, according to the city’s report. Much of the area comprises outdoor storage and truck yards and is surrounded by residential developments.
  • The Central Bay Industrial Park, which occupies 468 acres. The area has several vacant and under-utilized spaces, including the 16.5-acre San Francisco Chronicle site. According to the staff report, the city aims to convert warehouse and distribution centers in the area to light manufacturing and research and development businesses to increase employment and generate more sales tax.
  • The Station District, which surrounds the BART station, is currently in development. The city hopes to make it a high-density, pedestrian-oriented sustainable community. In the last several years, the BART station has been renovated with new parking and connecting streets. A new 157-unit affordable housing community and retail spaces are also being constructed along 11th Street. There are several locations in the area reserved for high-density housing, as well as a stretch of land zoned for a research and development campus.
  • The Old Alvarado district and Union City Boulevard corridor, which include a mix of historic buildings and new developments that would accommodate commercial, residential and institutional uses. However, the area needs to be revitalized before it becomes more attractive to potential investors, the report said. A lack of reinvestment by property owners has caused the area to “deteriorate,” it said.

According to Malloy, officials spent a good amount of time discussing the Old Alvarado area during last month’s tour.

“Old Alvarado has a historic framework. It has a certain charm,” Malloy said. “What can the city do to build upon that?”

The Old Alvarado-Union City Boulevard corridor and Station District are two areas that Mayor Mark Green said he’d like to examine first “in terms of immediacy and reality.” There are growing interests in both areas that should be taken advantage of, Green said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The future study sessions are tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4 and 18, and Nov. 1, 15 or 29.

The public meetings are just another step in realizing the city’s vision, Malloy said.

“Union City prides itself on the services it provides to its citizens, but we have had ask the citizenry for higher taxes,” Malloy said. “Like many cities, we want to provide the services and be the kind of community we want to be.”

“We need a strong and healthy business community to provide the services we need for our kids, our families and our seniors,” Malloy said. “We’ve had a lot of successes and we want to keep working on that.”