Concord is breaking ground, but what’s fixing to come in?

Erin Smith, Opinions editor

Come Fall 2017, the students of Diablo Valley College may have access to a new 30-acre, $100 million shopping center right off of Interstate 680 on Diamond Boulevard.

The previous occupant, a Chevron corporate campus, has been demolished and CenterCal has been busy bringing new life into the property. They have already broken ground and are planning to fill the 375,000 square foot space with 50 tenants.

The mock-ups show a modern space with lush landscaping, pedestrian-friendly walkways, ambient lighting, as well as a colorful water feature. There will be an emphasis on unique eateries in lieu of typical chain, mall-worthy restaurants. The pre-emptive visual even shows some swanky outdoor dining areas.

The idea is to invite people to stay a little bit longer and linger in the space. The hope is the city will eventually sanction events and programs in the new hot spot.

With the addition of a 365 Whole Foods grocery store and a large fitness center slated to go in, the CEO of CenterCal, Fred Bruning, emphasized the importance of creating a cohesive space that will be frequented by locals, and out-of-towners alike.

“They can stop by and find all their needs met,” he said.

“As part of the theater, it’s the first full luxury iMax theater in the country.” It will feature full reclining seats along with full restaurant and bar services. Students will soon be able to grab a beer or glass of wine and a restaurant quality meal while enjoying a Friday night premiere.

As far as why Concord? Bruning mentioned the surrounding shopping areas, The Willows, and Sunvalley Mall. “It’s a wonderful trade area,” he said, but the mall has become outdated and The Veranda will be “cutting edge” in comparison.

“I’ve been working on this project since December, 2016. The plan is to open November of this year, before the holidays,” said Concord Principal Planner, Frank Abejo.

He confirmed, “They do have a pavilion plaza area for programming, but they won’t conflict with what’s going on downtown.” So the Todos Santos Monday evening “Off the Grid” food truck meeting and Thursday evening farmers market are safe.

“It’s gonna be a mix of office, commercial and retail. The area is prime for that kind of thing,” he continued.

As far as what’s going to fill the space Abejo said, “The one’s we do know that have signed a lease is a movie theater with an iMax, Pete’s Coffee, Whole Foods 365 Market, a Super Duper Burger with a drive-thru,” as well as a Toys ‘R’ Us/Babies ‘R’ Us.

“We’re hoping The Veranda will be an attractive place for students,” he concluded.

Many students may have noticed the adjacent DVC Plaza has remained dormant for quite some time, since about 2014.

According to Pleasant Hill Senior Planner Troy Fujiimoto, the space is essentially being split in two, remodeled and upgraded. The northern half is slated to become a CarMax, although the permit hasn’t been fully approved yet, but according to, a judge has cleared the way for a 50-foot sign to be built for the company.

The south end is going through the building permit process, “We hope that it get’s going, it’s taken longer than thought.” As far as what we can look forward to, the question still remains. “We don’t know who’s coming in yet,” said Fujimoto, but it will be a mix of retail and restaurants.

Luckily, Bruning said he hopes The Veranda will fill in the gaps of what offerings are available in Concord and act as a sort of “pressure relief valve” for the overly crowded and nearby Walnut Creek.

The completion of a project of this magnitude often has a positive effect on other dormant properties, giving hope for DVC Plaza. “It focuses a light on Concord and encourages more projects to be completed,” said Bruning.