First selected in 2000 Sondermann and Ring were chosen to develop the site

City and Harbor dignitaries finally got to celebrated the groundbreaking of large project. Photos by Richard Lieberman

by Richard Lieberman

Portside Ventura Harbor a project sixteen years in the making has  held its groundbreaking ceremony. The project initiated by developers Michael Sondermann and Doug Ring who spent nine years ushering Portside Ventura Harbor through many city regulatory provisions and city building departments.

Ring died in 2009, but Sondermann persevered pushing the project through the regulatory challenges, and facing a failing economy, and the death of his partner he kept the project alive. In 2012 the California Coastal Commission approved the project. The commission however added some additional requirements that the project would have to fulfill. The Coastal Commission provisions include a water-taxi service within the harbor and that the waterfront promenade be at least 50 feet wide. To fulfill the requirements a redesign of the original plan was needed. The project is located at Schooner Drive nearby and behind the Four Points Sheraton hotel.

Speakers and dignitaries at the ceremony felt it necessary to mention the time it took for project approval. Jim Friedman, chair of the Ventura Port District said, “You have to have a very special person to have gone through a process that has taken 16 years.” First selected in 2000 Sondermann and Ring were chosen to lease and develop the 21-acre site. Friedman added “Michael you are a very special person, and thank you for making this happen.”

The project is slated to include 300 rental units, 30 of them will be live/work spaces; 21,300 square feet of commercial property, and a recreational marina which will house 104 boat slips. Included in the plan is a two-acre park, a 50 feet wide promenade and a public dock for launching recreational vessels including kayaks and paddle boards.

Port commissioner Brian Brennan over the course of this long process voted favorably for the project when he was a City Council member, then voted again when he was a California Coastal Commission member, and finally voting from his current position as a port commissioner. Brennan said, “People will be impressed with their access to this site.”

Brennan also gave accolades to Sondermann for making 30 of the units scheduled to be affordable housing. Sondermann made this decision on his own, there are no city requirement for affordable units at the harbor.  He also praised Sondermann for the economic advantages that will come with the project.

Mayor of Ventura, Erik Nasarenko said “this project is a move toward making a better Ventura and a stronger and bolder Port District.”

“The project will add badly needed rental housing and park space and will help revitalize and reenergize nearby businesses”, added Nasarenko.

Construction for Portside Ventura Harbor is expected to be completed in November, 2019.


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