By Rebecca Wicks
The future of development in Ventura is always a hot topic. Most city officials and residents seem to favor controlled growth, as outlined in the 2005 General Plan, which details how the city prefers to grow. This, according to City Manager Mark Watkins includes big and small development.
“Some of the little projects are the most exciting to me,” said Watkins, pointing to The Trade Desk refurbishment of an existing building downtown and the opening of the new Topa Topa brewery. “That is what Ventura is really about – small business carry an economy – we don’t always notice it as much, but they are just as important.”
The process of starting a project – big or small – and the phases of reviews and approvals can seem complicated to an outsider. From the time a project is conceptually introduced to the time of actual construction can stretch years and even decades in some cases.
With more than 50 projects on the City’s Pending Project List City Planning Manager Dave Ward admits shepherding projects through the process is not a simple one.
“It’s a delicate dance,” admits Ward. “Projects go back and forth between the developer and City and when they are here on the City side we do our best to prioritize projects with the resources we have.”
More than two years ago the Breeze published “10 projects that will change the face of Ventura.” Since then a number of other initiatives have been further developed by City as well as new projects been made public.
“I’m personally excited about the Hilton Hotel project,” said Mayor Cheryl Heitmann of the proposed project across from the fairgrounds which includes a restaurant.
Another new project would include the possibility of building high-end apartments in the area where Joe’s Crabshack was. The project, which had to be approved by the Coastal Commission is in its infancy stages with its developers just entering the concept review stages.
“The project is not in the downtown core, but it is part of the Thompson corridor and aligns with the City’s Infill First strategy,” said Ward who said the project has received some initial favorable reviews.
Other new projects include Kaiser Permanente building a large regional medical center off Market Street (see more in this issue). The plans for the sizeable multi-story building are currently in design review but are seemingly on an aggressive track according to Ward.
Finally, with the closing of the Montalvo Wastewater Plant, the City’s initiative to revitalize the auto center area is poised to move forward. Proposed projects for the area include the extension of Olivas Drive and Johnson Drive. According to Watkins the City, owner and developer have a shared goal of the area including the likes of “destination retailers,” and other businesses that would bolster the auto mall itself. The creation of a specific plan of the area is expected to take shape in 2016.
More than two years ago the Breeze published “10 projects that will change the face of Ventura.” Last issue updates for numbers 1 through 5 were provided, here are updates on the final 5 projects on the list.
Number 5. The Grove – A project that began before the recession, the community includes between 198-250 townhouses, apartments, courtyards and open space. Located on Telephone Road near the 101 and 126 Freeways across the street from Barnes & Noble, the project sits on 25 acres of farmland. The project has finished the planning process and is now about 70 percent done with its environmental review, according to Ward. Once this is completed, the document will be made available for public review and comment. Ward expects the City and the developer to work through traffic, water and sewer elements in the summer months, and spend winter 2016 months responding to public and other agency comments. Once this is completed, it will go through the Design Review Committee and the Council before the City will file to annex the land after which time the project will enter phase development.
Number 6. JenVen Village/Ventura East Village: JenVen Village, the housing portion of the project which includes 83 residential units at Wells Road and Darling Road is currently under construction. And, with two other separate residential projects nearby in final planning phases, the area is likely to see more units breaking ground soon. The commercial component of the project – Ventura East Village – which envisions a 14,000 sq. ft. market, 15,500 sq. ft. drugstore and a drive-thru restaurant has been all but stagnant in recent months.
Number 7. Citrus Apartments and Citrus Place: One block from each other in East Ventura near Wells Road and Citrus Road, these projects have been humming along. The 54-unit Citrus Apartments have been completed and are already occupied. The Citrus Place project has finished construction on phase one and two – 60 apartments and 60 townhomes respectively – and is currently in the final stages of phase three construction, which includes 59 single-family homes. The Vince Daly Group has filed for two additional projects in the area including Citrus 2, which includes 78 additional apartment, and the 43-apartment Carlos Drive Project.
Number 8. Island View Apartments: Westwood Communities 155-unit apartment complex behind Montalvo Square is currently under construction. The project which includes multiple buildings involves a good amount of grading and a fair amount of excavation according to Ward who expects the project to be under construction for most of 2016.
Number 9. La Barranca: Ten “executive-style” homes on Foothill Road near Day Road are currently under construction. The homes were touted as having the potential to bring higher-income and business owners to Ventura.
Number 10. Marriott – Residence Inn: The 128-room four-story hotel will sit on the sliver of land at 770 S. Seaward Ave. behind where Golden China currently resides. The project has successfully finished their rounds of plan check review. The final drawings are now done and the developer can begin to break ground as soon as it pulls construction permits.