Oxnard Will Gain Mixed-Use Project : $500-Million Development to Include Retail and Office Buildings, Hotels

Times Staff Writer

Oxnard, Ventura County’s strongest commercial and financial center, is the setting for a planned $500-million mixed-use development on 265 acres that will stretch for about a mile along the Ventura Freeway at its junction with Oxnard Boulevard.

Oxnard Town Center’s construction start in September is scheduled to coincide with the issuance of the first series of Mello-Roos community facility district bonds, passed unanimously by the Oxnard City Council on May 10, and awaiting a final public hearing on June 14.

When completed over an estimated 15- to 20-year build-out period, the River Edge Development Co. project (with Martin J. Raynes and Robert B. Stang of M.J. Raynes Co., and the Warmington Co. as limited partners), will provide a total of 4.4 million square feet of offices and commercial facilities.


Includes Arts Facility

The master plan for the center allows for 1 million square feet of retail space, 1.5 million square feet of high-rise and mid-rise office buildings, about 1.2 million square feet of low-rise garden office units, several hotels, restaurants, banks, an automotive center, a neighborhood park and a 130,000 square-foot cultural arts facility.

The first phase will be carried out on a 30-acre site that encompasses 5 low-rise garden office buildings, 2 mid-rise office buildings, a 125-room hotel and a restaurant.

The second phase, to begin early next year, will include construction of a portion of the regional shopping mall in the southeast portion of the center. The site is adjacent to the Ventura Freeway and bounded by Oxnard Boulevard on two sides following that primary arterial as it sweeps around from the freeway interchange to tie into Vineyard Avenue to the east.

“The Oxnard Town Center has one of the few remaining tracts along a freeway in Southern California suitable for siting a major regional shopping mall,” said Paul R. Denis, a River Edge vice president involved with the project.

Both county and city officials have endorsed the overall planning of the Oxnard project and are cooperating closely with the developers. The center is the first project to utilize the Mello-Roos community facility district bonds.

“We view master-plan concepts, such as Oxnard Town Center, the Rose/Santa Clara Corridor and an additional industrial core to the northeast, as projects of enormous economic and cultural benefit to the area,” said city planner Matthew Winegar.

“These opportunities for development allow us to plan more cohesively and efficiently for the future in terms of funding, in the phasing of public improvements and in planning for long-term traffic mitigation measures.”

Traffic Improvements

As construction of Oxnard Town Center progresses, public improvements to be implemented include the widening of the underpass leading to the project, adding lanes to the Santa Clara River bridge, and initiating major improvements to the Ventura Freeway and Oxnard Boulevard (U.S. 101 and California 1).

“Our decision to undertake this major venture,” said Lawrence R. Lahr, president of the Buellton-based River Edge Development Co., “was based principally upon an increasing awareness by the Los Angeles business community that Oxnard is an unusually attractive place to live and work.

“We already have received a surprising amount of interest in the project from major corporations that are considering relocating regional operations there.”

Oxnard is the largest city in Ventura County and has a population of 123,000. A study by the Robert Charles Co., Beverly Hills, assigned in the preplanning stages by the developers, showed that between 1980 and 1985 the city showed nearly a 20% increase in employment in financial services, real estate insurance and professional services.

‘Next Orange County’

“We see Ventura County as the next Orange County in terms of growth and quality development, and we envision Oxnard Town Center as having a similar role and presence as South Coast Plaza has in Orange County,” Lahr said.

His optimism is bolstered by a survey of the top 100 metropolitan areas, reported in the August 1987 issue of Money Magazine, listing the Oxnard/Ventura region as California’s most desirable area based on the quality of life for its residents. The area ranked seventh nationally.