Downtown San Ramon to be completed in 2018

Construction on massive project starts nine years after conception

Downtown San Ramon to be completed in 2018

Photo courtesy of

Brittany Jimena and Cameron Harris

In spring of 2007, the city of San Ramon officially approved and finalized the building of a new City Center on about 40 acres located at the intersection of Bollinger Canyon Road and Camino Ramon.

Though demolition of an old office park just west of the intersection is nearly complete, it will not be until the summer of 2018 that the new downtown will officially open.

“The city center is something that the residents have been waiting for ever since the city was  incorporated in 1983,” said Phil Wong, San Ramon’s Planning/Community Development Director.

The initial concept for the downtown area was created in 2007, but with the economic crash in 2008 and the estimated budget of the City Center amounting to $850 million, the construction was delayed.  Now, after nine years, the construction has finally begun.

The city plans to create an open public setting that goes beyond a shopping mall.   According to San Ramon’s Chamber of Commerce,  the City Center will include a variety of community elements, including a citizens’ plaza, high-quality retail, hotel, movie theater, restaurants, residential space, and a new City Hall and library.

“ I think they [Cal High students] will enjoy the downtown because it’s new and San Ramon will finally have a place for teens to hang out,” said freshman Blake Cunningham.

The main focus of the project is the retail section. Best described as a piazza, the new downtown intends to imitate the very natural look of Bishop Ranch.

To complete this project, the city is partnering with the Sunset Development Company, which is responsible for the overall development and construction of the City Center. Sunset has also developed the Bishop Ranch office complex since its construction in 1978.

The city will oversee the construction of public-related aspects of the project, such as City Hall and the library.

The head of design for San Ramon’s new downtown is world-renowned architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop.  Piano’s most notable projects include The New York Times Building and California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

With all these impressive projects, Piano’s plans for the city center in San Ramon came as a shock to the architectural world.

“This is a great opportunity for us to explore the nature of the suburban environment,” Piano’s partner Antonio Belvedere said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “We have to plant the seed that allows other things to grow.”

Not only does Piano’s design company want to build a city center in a unique environment like San Ramon, but they also want to revolutionize the way a suburban society functions.

A statement from the official design company, found at www., reads, “One of the biggest constraints we face when designing a city center in suburbia is that cars are essential to getting there.  Our objective is to create a pedestrian realm, a place into which – as soon as it is reached – the car seemingly by magic disappears and leaves the place to the human being.”

The idea of having the cars “disappear” is shown in their designs.

To minimize the need for parking structures or lots, there will be parking on the second floor as well as the roof of the piazza.

At about 75,000 people, San Ramon’s population is steadily increasing with a growing amount of adolescents and young adults ranging from ages 14 to 21, according to a 2015 census of the city.

Many complain about the lack of places to go and activities in San Ramon. The city hopes the new project will eliminate this complaint.

Few students seem to know much about the City Center.

“I drive past the construction zone by Bishop Ranch all the time, but I never really knew what it was for,” said sophomore Hailey Meyer.  “If the city is able to complete the project and put in the movie theater and all the shops, I think it would be a cool place to go after school.”

The new downtown’s retail shops and restaurants will generate large amounts of sales, which means more tax earnings for the city. But the consequence that comes along with the building of new retail and entertainment is more traffic.

“At times, there may be some short term isolated congestion.  However, the busiest time for this type of project will be during the weekends,” said Wong. “During the week days, office workers may be the prime users due to the the city center’s proximity to the Bishop Ranch Business Parks.”