By For Richmond Staff
With its state-of-the-art campus, bike paths leading to the Bay Trail, lecture forums and welcoming cafes, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Richmond development is shaping up to be a boon for the city.
And the For Richmond coalition has thrown its full support behind the project: Not only will it create jobs for residents, but it will also encourage development of other clean technologies and businesses and draw more people and revenue dollars to Richmond.
“We’re all very excited because we are expecting this significant project to draw all kinds of new businesses to Richmond, which means more jobs for residents who need them,” said Judith Morgan, President and CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and a For Richmond steering committee member.
Coalition members are thrilled to see plans for the project moving forward – despite possible delays due to federal budget cuts. At a recent community meeting at Richmond City Hall, UC Berkeley and LBNL representatives told a group of about 100 community members that project plans are in the approval process, and they described how they see the area unfolding over time.
Graham Fleming, vice chancellor of research of UC Berkeley, described the plan for Richmond as “synergistic,” with UC Berkeley, LBNL and private developers all eventually building in the West Richmond area along the coast.
“It will take decades for the full vision to be realized, but it’s good to have a big picture in mind,” said Glenn Kubiak, chief operating officer for Berkeley Lab.
That big picture is both ambitious and impressive.
“We intend this to be a premier research hub. This can only be good for the Bay Area, only be good for Richmond and is good for all of us around the world,” said Barbara Maloney, a partner with BMS Design Group, which is overseeing the design plans. “This can become a real center of research. There’s plenty of land for other research companies to establish themselves nearby.”
The campus is already taking shape on the drawing boards with building placement, parking structures, trails and protected open space all outlined for the site.
Because the area has sensitive grasslands that need to be protected, there will be 25 acres of natural open space with minimal human access. The remaining 108 acres will be developed into research facilities, educational facilities, parking, food courts and open areas.
Parking lots will be placed on the outer edges of the property, most off the main road into the site. As a result, the center of the property will remain mostly car-free but bisected by Regatta Boulevard. The area will have walkways connecting four office clusters, or “neighborhoods,” with several open areas for socializing and eating.
The first of the four campus corridors will be developed along South 47th Street, near the Bay Trail, giving the community parking and access to the trail as soon as possible. The first phase is expected to be up to 600,000 square feet and house 1,300 people.
As more employees start working out of the new development, transportation solutions will be provided, including shuttle service linking the Richmond campus to the local BART stations and UC Berkeley, and possible ferry service linking Richmond to the Bay Area.
For Willie Hicks, the For Richmond jobs chair and the president and business representative for Laborers Local 324 in Richmond, all of these new plans mean one thing: jobs, jobs and more jobs for Richmond residents in need of work.
“Projects like this are fantastic because they attract other projects and businesses that put our workforce back to work,” Hicks said.
Morgan echoed that sentiment, adding that LBNL has made a commitment to support locally-owned small businesses, meaning that local restaurants, dry cleaners and drug stores, among others, will all benefit.
“This project is a win for this community many times over,” she said.
To find out more about the project, visit http://richmondbaycampus.lbl.gov/