The city’s Community Development Department is getting the ball rolling on the development of a one-third-acre plot of land at the corner of South Garden and West Main streets — and the ball seems to be moving fairly fast. A request for proposals (RFP) for the purchase and development of the site was approved by the City Council on Feb. 10. Deadline for proposals is March 12, giving prospective buyers just a month to come up with their plans.
The plot, referred to as Site #2, is one of four properties that were transferred to the city in 2013 after the 2012 dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Buenaventura as a result of state legislation AB 1X 26. A long-range property management plan (LRPMP) was put together for “future disposition and development” of these properties, with the aim of using them to enhance the city’s economic development and vitality.
“The goal of this process is to sell property for the purposes of development,” said Jeffrey Lambert, Ventura’s community development director. “We don’t want the continuation of a dirt lot that someone else owns.”
The Community Development Department will review and evaluate all proposals submitted for Site #2, and make recommendations to the City Council as early as April. The reason the city is trying to act so quickly? A looming deadline. “What’s driving it is that we need to dispose of these four properties by the summer of 2016,” Lambert says, referencing the rules laid out in the management plan.
The city seems to be on track to achieve that goal. Site #3 at the corner of Thompson Boulevard and South Ventura Avenue is the first property to have already gone through the proposal process, and final approval of the sale (to the Becker Group) is expected in April. It is the last parcel to be acquired as a part of the “Mar-Y-Cel” project, a mixed-use property incorporating 138 units and 6,800 square feet of retail and commercial space. The 2.5-acre lot would also house a multilevel garage for both shoppers and tenants. No action as yet has been taken on Site #6 (Figueroa Street near Thompson), but Lambert expects one will be announced later this year. Site #7, which makes up part of the parking lot behind the Century 10 movie theater, also falls under the management plan, but will be handled somewhat differently than the other three sites.“We’ll probably work with City Council to come up with a design of our own and ask developers to bid on that design,” Lambert said.
At least one company has already shown some interest in Site #2. In September, Patagonia entered into a license agreement with the city to use the space for temporary parking. Lambert thinks it is likely that the company will submit a proposal. “We expect that Patagonia will have some interest,” he says.
Patagonia has not commented publicly on the property or the request for proposals. But Adam Fetcher, Patagonia’s director of PR and communications, said via email that an expansion might be in the company’s future.
“Right now, we’re working with the city and county to consider possible options that could allow us to expand our footprint,” Fetcher explained. “We haven’t completely put the pieces of the puzzle together just yet, but we look forward to having a positive impact on the West End of town and we really appreciate the partnerships we have with Ventura County and the city of Ventura.”
The outdoor retail giant was also recently award $700,000 in tax credits through the California Competes Tax Program, designed to ensure the creation of new jobs by encouraging businesses to locate or expand in California. The credits are earmarked to support the creation of some 175 new full-time positions, although Fetcher cautions that these won’t all be offered at once.
“These jobs will be realized at a relatively modest pace over the next five years, and will be spread throughout our business,” he says. “We’ll be hiring as needs and opportunities arise.”
At first blush, Site #2’s close proximity to Patagonia headquarters seems to make it a practical option for expansion. Recommendations for that site will go before the City Council in April.