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LIVERMORE — For three years, Adam Van de Water worked on projects that aimed to improve the quality of life for Livermore residents. Now that he's moving on from the city’s administration — or more correctly, back — to the much busier streets of San Francisco, he looks forward to seeing what his successors do.

Van de Water, who last week left his job as Livermore's director of innovation and economic development, leaves behind a body of work that includes a cultural arts vision that placed murals and sculptures throughout the city; a recently adopted Wine Heritage District that will work to grow Livermore's industry with tourist spots and tasting rooms; and programs that distributed millions of dollars to enable businesses to renovate and stay open during the pandemic shutdown.

"I feel like we did a good job of reaching out to the community, finding out what the community's interests were ... reflecting those in our strategic plan and developing scopes of work to deliver on that vision," Van de Water said. "We heard a lot of folks talk about the value of the arts and I think we were able to fund a number of projects that are very visible and have been very well-received in the heart of downtown and the community."

Van de Water will return next month to downtown San Francisco, where he worked for 17 years before joining Livermore’s administration in 2019. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) Board of Directors hired Van de Water away from Livermore to be its new executive director, tapping him to run its Salesforce Transit Center, a $2.2 billion modern facility opened in 2018. The regional transportation center is a hub that connects several Bay Area transit systems — AC Transit, Greyhound, Muni, Golden Gate Transit, WestCAT Lynx, and Paratransit — to BART, Muni Metro and Sam Trans.

It doesn’t, however, link to CalTrain, which ends about 1.3 miles away near the San Francisco Giants ballpark. Van de Water will be tasked to deliver the $4.5 billion Downtown Extension Project (DTX) by 2028, linking the train line to the Salesforce building, making it easier for commuters to get around and, ultimately, connecting San Francisco to the California High Speed Rail project. By 2033, it is expected a high-speed train trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles will take only three hours.

“There is no better time to deliver the DTX as we leverage historic federal infrastructure investment on the promise of this decades-long Bay Area vision,” said Van de Water, who plans to ride a bus to work from his home in Oakland.

Besides the transit projects, Van de Water will be in charge of running a massive building with 100,000-square-feet of retail space, a nearly 5 1/2 -acre park on the roof, and a public art program.

“One of my old colleagues said, ‘You would be perfect for this,’” Van de Water said. “My expertise is in large-scale capital delivery.”

During his previous nearly two decades in San Francisco, Van de Water worked on huge projects, including the city and county’s Rail Alignment and Benefits Study to develop the city’s Railyard Plan. He led the entitlement processes to expand the $500 million Moscone Convention Center; relocate the Golden State Warriors from Oakland to the $1 billion Chase Center in Mission Bay; and complete the 27-acre Mission Rock project with the San Francisco Giants and the Port of San Francisco. He also helped create San Francisco’s first 10-year capital plan that resulted in more than $3 billion in general-obligation bonds to make improvements to San Francisco General Hospital and the city’s open space and emergency service network.

Van de Water said it is satisfying to see the impact his work had stimulating retail, providing jobs and housing.

“You also see the physical construction itself,” he said. “You spend years working on the design and how people will get in and out safely from the building and how they experience it. And then after years of planning, it goes under construction and opens, and you see that reality and can visualize finally what the renderings were in real life.”

When all of that work was completed in San Francisco three years ago, Van de Water saw Livermore’s opening for director of innovation and industrial development as an “interesting opportunity” to work in a smaller town with ties to two national laboratories, a classic Main Street, the largest outlet mall on the west coast and wine, a major agricultural wine industry.

“It’s a really interesting mix of economies in a professional and stable run city,” Van de Water said.

Livermore Mayor Bob Woerner credited Van de Water and his staff for directing policy for the city’s Commission for the Arts. They created an update to the city’s 13-year-old Cultural Arts Vision and a shift toward public art that better supports economic development, including the 2020 and 2021 Mural Festivals, Woerner said.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Adam worked with downtown merchants, Livermore Downtown Inc, the Chamber of Commerce and other partners to redesign public outdoor space and create and distribute $2 million allocated by the City Council for COVID-19- related small business recovery grants, unlocking $3.6 million in direct economic impact,” Woerner said.

Brandon Cardwell, a senior management analyst who worked for Van de Water and has stepped into his role as interim director, wrote on social media that “good bosses are hard to come by.”

“Managers who invest in their people even when it means handing off the fun, high-profile projects are even more rare,” Cardwell said on LinkedIn. “I wish you luck on your new adventure, and I'm happy for all the people who will have the privilege of working alongside you. We will miss you around here.”

Van de Water said going back to work in San Francisco from Livermore is a “big change.”

“Livermore is a fantastic place to be and a place to work,” he said. “I will miss it ... I think it's got a lot going for it.”

Van de Water added that he will remain invested in Livermore’s future, watching his former colleagues complete the initiatives they started together.

“I look forward to coming back and seeing the progress,” he said.