WALNUT CREEK -- A dining concept that exists nowhere in Contra Costa County, perhaps the entire East Bay, will soon come to Walnut Creek's famed "Cadillac Corner."

At the northwest intersection of Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Main Street, across from Tiffany's and Neiman Marcus, a two-story building will be crowned with a rooftop restaurant that is neither totally outdoor nor indoor.

"It amazes me there isn't rooftop dining in Walnut Creek already," said Brian Hirahara, owner of BH Development.

So the developer behind projects including Tiffany's, Va de Vi and Sasa downtown, decided to make rooftop dining part of the latest incarnation of his project, dubbed 1500 Mt. Diablo. Currently the parcel is home to a parking lot that Walnut Creek sold to BH Development for $2.5 million in 2012.

Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Main Street, Walnut Creek
Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Main Street, Walnut Creek

Now with an approved design plan, BH is moving forward with a building Hirahara calls a "game changer." More than 3,300 square feet of the ground-floor space will be for a retail shop; the rest of the building will be divided among three restaurants, each on its own floor. Tenants for the three restaurants have not yet been signed, but each will offer different cuisines, Hirahara said.

"They will be different but will complement each other as well -- that's our goal," he said.

The ground floor will feature a cafe-type eatery, the nearly 5,000-square-foot restaurant on the second floor will come complete with a covered terrace for outdoor dining. And the top floor will feature a 4,300-square-foot restaurant with an "indoor-outdoor feel," partially covered with a ceiling made of skylights, Hirahara said.


Advertisement

Views from the building will range from scenes of Mount Diablo and downtown Walnut Creek to -- for patrons on the rooftop balcony overlooking a "living roof" -- a blanket of plants and grasses growing on top of the second-story terrace roof.

The building will have two prominent architectural elements -- a tower adorned with steel panels as the entrance to the retail store, and a brick tower covered by living "green wall" that fronts Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

BH will also add cobblestone pavers to a portion of Commercial Lane, the alley behind buildings that front Main Street. During the design review approval, city leaders said they hope this would be the first step in converting Commercial Lane into a paseo or plaza in the future.

The building will stand at the entrance of "traditional downtown" for those walking north, away from Broadway Plaza. And for that reason, city leaders expect this project to energize the Mt. Diablo Boulevard-Main Street corner and promote economic development throughout the traditional downtown.

Hirahara hopes to start construction this summer and have tenants operating sometime next year.

Getting project approval hasn't been easy. The original close of escrow was supposed to be in August 2013, but after a series of extensions, escrow is now expected to close in July. And in a letter to the city, Hirahara detailed some of the difficulties in this process, including environmental remediation of this onetime gas station site (where underground storage tanks remain). Also he described "plan check comments" from city staff which added a 30-day delay.

"I am looking very forward to this development and I think the little bit of extra time the developer needs means we will have an even better project and BH Development always does great projects," said Councilwoman Cindy Silva at a council meeting earlier this month.

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.