WALNUT CREEK -- A seemingly simple consent calender item on the City Council's Jan. 21 agenda means a multimillion-dollar expansion at Walnut Creek's outdoor mall can move forward.

The City Council pushed for the city to take control of 1,000 feet of the San Ramon Creek culvert from the federal government in April. And on Tuesday, the council promptly handed over responsibility to maintain 200 feet of the culvert to Broadway Plaza owners Macerich.

This transfer is the necessary linchpin giving the outdoor mall owners the green light to build a 300,000-square-foot expansion and remodel of the more than 40-year-old downtown center.

The City Council approved the expansion plans last month, but without this final agreement, the expansion could not move forward. Now it's likely that phase one of the expansion could start as early as next month. Macerich agreed to give the city up to $5 million in exchange for 20-year vesting rights.

It took an act of Congress -- specifically the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 -- to get the 4-mile portion of San Ramon Creek defederalized. This was a first, said Garrett Newland, vice president of development for Macerich.

Newland attended Tuesday's council meeting but did not publicly comment as the agreement with Macerich sailed through with a unanimous council vote.


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Though still needed for local drainage and to help preserve riparian habitat, the culvert was originally built to control a 100-year flood of San Ramon Creek. But the San Ramon Bypass, built in the 1990s, made the culvert unnecessary, according to a city staff report.

After its expansion, Broadway Plaza is expected to generate anywhere from $1.3 million to $3 million in yearly sales tax revenue for the city.

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