The Hilltown project is proposed for a 44-acre parcel bounded by John Muir Parkway to the south, San Pablo Avenue to the west, the Victoria By The Bay development to the north, and by Interstate 80 to the east. The site has dramatic differences in elevation, rising from approximately elevation 50 near John Muir Parkway to elevations in excess of 200 at the top. It is highly visible from several vantage points in Hercules, and presents a signature view of Hercules to thousands of cars traveling eastbound on Interstate 80.
The site was developed by PG&E in the late 70s as an oil storage, heating and pumping station in connection with a PG&E pipeline from Richmond to eastern Contra Costa County. PG&E used these facilities to supply heavy fuel oil to power generating facilities in Pittsburg. A change in environmental regulations that imposed more stringent limitations on the sulfur content in heavy fuel oil rendered the facility essentially obsolete by the early 80s, and PG&E maintained the facility in standby status until its sale in October 2005.
Santa Clara Valley Housing Group (SCVHG) acquired an option on the property several years ago, and purchased the property from PG&E in 2005 in a transaction that involved Shell Oil Company taking possession of the Richmond-to-Pittsburg pipeline and SCVHG taking the Hercules tank farm site.
The City's public planning process (the 2000-2001 Charette, etc.) noted that the tank farm site was "evocative of the Italian hill towns built centuries ago" and envisioned "urban density in a highly livable, marketable, picturesque package". The SCVHG design team (including KTGY Group as architects, dK Consulting as civil engineers, vanderToolen Associates as landscape architects) has been meeting with City staff, a joint Planning Commission/City Council informal review team, the town architect (Opticos), and City-recommended consultants (Dave Sargent and the HDR team) over a year and a half to develop a plan for Hill Town.
The following is a list of items that must be completed as part of the development of the Hilltown property:
a. A Remediation Plan describing the proposed demolition and clean-up of the existing 4 oil storage tanks and storage yard.
b. An environmental impact report describing the impacts of this project and mitigation measures.
c. A Zone Change from “Industrial” to “Planned Commercial-Residential”.
d. A Planned Development Plan.
e. A Design Review Permit for the architectural design of the proposed buildings.
f. A Tentative Tract Map for the proposed subdivision.