It’s been a long time coming — 16 years, in fact, since Sondermann Ring Partners came to the city of Ventura with a residential mixed-use project for the 27-acre site across the marina from Ventura Harbor Village. But in complying with rigid coastal zoning laws and meticulous design reviews by the city, as well as coping with the 2008 economic downturn and the passing of Douglas Ring of the Sondermann Ring Partners, the project hit some major hurdles. Until now.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Portside Ventura Harbor, the 270 apartments, 30 live/work spaces with 21,300 square-feet of commercial and retail space, plus a public park, promenade and other amenities, finally broke ground and is expected to be fully built out by November 2019.
“The thing that makes me the happiest is to deliver this collaborative undertaking, an effort with the community and the port and the city,” said developer Michael Sondermann. “It’s long overdue and very exciting to get this started,” noting that some of the residential units should become available in 18 months.
With a rental housing vacancy rate of less than 2 percent in Ventura, city Community Development Director Jeffrey Lambert sees this as a good start in addressing the city’s housing needs.
“The reality is, right now, these are just rough numbers; we have 700 units under construction, another 1,100 in plan check — this is by far the most activity in decades,” Lambert said, adding that Mar-Y-Cel mixed-use project, with 138 apartments at S. Ventura Avenue and Thompson Boulevard, should be underway by March. “Along with plenty of other projects in the works, it’s pretty significant in adding to the housing stock.”
With so much residential construction underway and on the horizon, residents have raised their concerns about the city’s water supply, but Lambert said that planning for these projects included examining and considering current water supply, demand as well as the ongoing drought. Even Sondermann addressed the issue in his project, which includes using reclaimed water from the treatment facility for landscape irrigation and installing water submeters in every apartment so tenants can conserve in their use.
As for the port district and Ventura Harbor Village, Oscar Peña, general manager of the port district, also expressed his excitement.
“We are ever so happy finally coming to fruition, that this developer can break ground,” Peña said. “We really believe to be the catalyst for new development and redevelopment in the harbor.”
Pena said that it has been 30 years — since the construction of Harbor Village itself — since any major projects have been built. He sees it as a major economic boost for the area.