There had been some suspicion over the last couple of months among the employees of Joe’s Crab Shack on Sanjon Road in Ventura that the restaurant had been slated for closure. On Monday, their suspicions proved to be true — with a simple sign on the door and no real warning that their employment would end so hastily. What many of the employees perhaps didn’t realize, however, is that development plans for what is known as the Triangle Site had been under way for years, starting in 2010 when the Lloyd family, who had owned the property for decades, began working with California Coastal Commission to change the zoning as well as working on a sale with Santa Monica-based JDA West LLC, a multifamily real estate developer. In the last year, the commission, which had put off the request for the zoning change since 2010 after the city rezoned it for residential in 2007, including it in the downtown specific plan, reached an agreement and approved the property for residential development. Also, on Aug. 1, Haven at Ventura LLC closed the sale of the Crab Shack property for $9.5 million, according to Realist.com, a website that lists real estate transactions. Ventura’s Community Development Director Jeffrey Lambert said that that recent transaction most likely prompted the quick closure of the restaurant.
The proposed development, The Bluffs at Vista Del Mar, includes roughly 230 luxury apartments, with a public promenade along the ocean side of the 11-acre property. Given that the plan submission is only a pre-application, “a very conceptual stage” Lambert said, the plans are subject to change; but he said that the developer/owner of the property had relayed that the city may expect a formal application by the end of the month. Lambert did not indicate a date for groundbreaking, as the developers still have to go through the Design Review Committee, the Planning Commission and the City Council, a process that for some developments in the city, takes years to complete.
“They are just starting the entitlement process,” Lambert said. “We have to determine if the application is complete. Then they have to go through design review process.”
Another hitch, the restaurant building itself may have historical significance, which could require the developer to agree to some degree of preservation. But that’s still a long way out in the process to finalize plans.
Stephen Schafer, president of the San Buenaventura Conservancy, which advocates for the preservation of certain historical structures, said that the restaurant building, designed by Joe Lancor of Hawaii-based Lancor Architects and built in 1981, is an important structure for Ventura’s history.
“The National Register of Historic Places has a higher standard for buildings that are less than 50 years old. Those must show exceptional significance to be included,” Schafer said. “We believe this building would qualify as exceptionally significant.”F
This story was originally published at www.vcreporter.com on Sept. 16.