Ventura looks to add big box retailers behind auto center

The site likely won’t be fully developed for up to 10 years.

The City of Ventura is working on its Olivas Park Specific Plan area, next to Highway 101 and the Ventura Auto Center, to extend a road in hopes of attracting big-box retailers, such as IKEA.

In 2019, the council adopted an Olivas Park Specific Plan that allowed flexible development of the site. The area consists of multiple parcels (16) totaling 139.0 acres, which are mostly undeveloped. Of the 139 acres, approximately 53% of the land is developable, 22% designated as open space, 9% include the levee and road construction, and 16% is already developed.

‘The Olivas Park Specific Plan sets forth a plan for the infrastructure necessary to develop the area, establish maximum flexibility to support commercial and/or industrial development of the area, and establish an efficient review process, to allow the City to respond to potential developments that provide jobs and strengthen the local tax base.’

The City Council unanimously approved terms for a potential development agreement worth $35 million to extend Olivas Park Drive and construct a levee in the flood plain along the Santa Clara River. Completion of a levee/floodwall that is approximately 5,400 linear feet in length along the north side of the Santa Clara River will be required.

Under the agreement, the city would pay for the road extension and the three property owners would pay for the levee. The property owners are John Hofer’s Hofer Properties LLC, Allen Camp’s Ventura Olivas Company LLC and Louis Wolff’s MBL Golf Course.

Last Monday’s City Council meeting approved key terms of the potential development agreement. City staff members hope to bring the final proposed deal to the council early next year. The city’s share of the total costs is estimated to be $25.5 million which includes the roadway, demolition of a Montalvo Community Service District facility, a new sewer line and sewer connection fees.

Traffic mitigation fees, collected to offset the impact of new development on the existing road network, will be used to pay for the project. The fund’s current balance is about $19.9 million.

Councilman Doug Halter said he has heard about the project for the 36 years he’s lived in Ventura. “It’s an asset for this community,” Halter said.

Officials believe the improvements would provide the city an estimated $60,000-$280,000 in annual property tax revenue, which doesn’t include new sales tax generated, which is anticipated to be significant. Auto Center tax revenues account for about $4.5 – $5 million in annual revenue, around 20-25% of total annual sales tax collected.

The site likely won’t be fully developed for up to 10 years, the staff report said, and future revenues wouldn’t be realized for the same duration.

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