Hercules City Manager Steve Duran said city officials will file court papers today or tomorrow to begin eminent domain action on the property known as "R Alley."
The city will have possession of the land in about 100 days unless an out-of-court settlement is reached earlier. If there is a trial, the price the city must pay for the property will be determined later, Duran said.
On Tuesday night, the Hercules City Council approved a "resolution of necessity" to begin the proceedings.
The four-story project calls for 140 apartments on the top three floors and 10,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor.
The development has been held up because of the "R Alley" easement that is needed for emergency access.
The property is owned by the Bayside Home Owners Association, which represents 300 single-family homes near the project.