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Santa Ana gives the green light to city’s largest mixed-use development

Santa Ana gives the green light to city’s largest mixed-use development

SANTA ANA – The Santa Ana City Council made the rare move Tuesday of rezoning an 18-acre parcel of industrial land for what would be the city’s largest mixed-use development to help solve housing needs in the densely populated community.

With council members’ unanimous approval of rezoning 2001 E. Dyer Road, as well as a development agreement, the Heritage Village is milestones closer to becoming a reality. The project, with 1,221 market-rate apartment units, 12,675 square feet of retail commercial space and 5,415 square feet of restaurant space, has cleared hurdles from neighboring Irvine, Tustin and John Wayne Airport, and is expected to be a boon for Santa Ana.

The five-story development at the city’s eastern edge will reoccupy a structure that has been mostly vacant for 14 years, add about $ 1 million annually to Santa Ana’s general fund, create 275 permanent jobs and contribute nearly $ 10 million to an off-site below-market-rate housing project, city officials say.

It’s uncommon for the city to rezone land from light industrial to residential, as it’s not easy to reverse the designation, but the long vacancy showed “that demand for industrial was minimal in that area,” said Hassan Haghani, executive director of the city’s Planning and Building Agency.

“The fact that there’s demand for a mixed-use project shows really kind of a new era for the area, and we’re looking at that carefully to see if it’s consistent and if it’s something we want to expand on,” said Haghani, adding that the city is in the midst of reviewing and revising its zoning code and General Plan policies.

Council members on Feb. 2 unanimously approved the final environmental impact report for the Heritage Village. There was no public opposition to the report, a change from last summer when the draft document went out for public review.

John Wayne Airport’s Airport Land Use Commission on Oct. 15 found the Heritage Village project inconsistent with its airport environment land use plan. The residences would be on the airport’s flight path with planes about 500 to 600 feet overhead. But Santa Ana council members on Feb. 2 unanimously voted to overrule the commission’s finding, thus assuming liability for any incidents, from noise complaints to accidents.

That move by the City Council was “not very common,” said the city’s Principal Planner Vince Fregoso.

“Being located next to an airport, there’s some safety and noise issues,” Fregoso said. “But since we’re a built-out community, we need to take a look at all the viable land in Santa Ana and see what we can do to encourage development and encourage residential housing.”

Additionally, after Irvine and Tustin, both less than one-eighth of a mile from the proposed development, complained about traffic impacts, Heritage Village developer Dyer 18 LLC agreed to help pay for widening eight surrounding intersections and an on-ramp to the 55 freeway.

Additionally, Tustin officials expressed concerns that many Heritage residents would use their neighboring city’s parks. That was mitigated with Heritage Village site plans that include a more-than-1-acre public park and walking trails.

The Heritage Village provides some relief for the city that’s crunched for both market-rate and below-market-rate housing.

As required by the city, Dyer 18 LLC will pay at least $ 9.3 million of in lieu fees for below-market-rate housing construction off site, since it decided against building the units there. The developer has recommended that the funds go toward a proposal by Amcal for 69 units on East First Street between Grand Avenue and I-5, an area Mayor Pro Tem Vince Sarmiento said is “a very, very sad place” ridden with crime and prostitution.

Council members have directed City Manager David Cavazos to lead discussions with Amcal on the below-market-rate project proposal.

“I think that it was fairly lengthy,” Pamela Sapetto, a consultant for Dyer 18 LLC, said of the almost three-year process. “But the result was quite good, I think, for everyone.”

Contact the writer: 714-796-7762, jkwong@ocregister.com or on Twitter: @JessicaGKwong

The Orange County Register – News Headlines : Real Estate News