The majestic and serene hillsides that line San Pablo Bay where Hercules, CA now flourishes suggest little of the rich history which lent a name to the city. Established in 1881 as company housing and manufacturing for California Powder Works (CPW), Hercules, CA derives its moniker from the potent black powder the company was producing. During World War I, Hercules Powder Works, formerly CPW, was the single largest explosives producer in the nation, and throughout the turn of the century the town it supported grew into a thriving community. Due to the explosive nature of the industry both figuratively and literally, the people of Hercules developed a strong sense of community that is sustained today through persistence and awareness. The elegant Historic Clubhouse, built in 1899 to house a majestic dance hall, billiards room, library and even an indoor pool remains on the waterfront and enjoys views across the bay.
By the end of World War II, demand for explosives dwindled and the facility made a natural transition to producing nitrogen-based fertilizers for use in farming practices. It is through their connection to farming and land preservation that the interests of the Pankey family were piqued. Operating with farming and family values at its core, the Pankeys hoped that fertilizer production would be profitable; and that the highly accessible and attractive location on San Pablo Bay might have significant value for future opportunities.
In 1983 the extensive process of environmental assessment and cleanup began and was completed to residential standards, allowing the site to focus on Hercules waterfront’s tremendous potential. In 2006, Anderson Pacific, LLC partnered with the Panekys in a new venture named Hercules Bayfront, LLC, which pledged to create a new urban community with extraordinary transit integration where residents could enjoy access through public transportation to the greater Bay Area. The site entitled and sold in 2016 to Ledcor Properties, Qalico and Landtower Residential and AndersonPacific, and the site is currently in the process of development.