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$2-Billion ‘City Within a City’ Unveiled : 3,000 Homes, Huge Shopping Center Proposed for 1,300-Acre Porter Ranch Site

Times Staff Writer

A proposed $2-billion residential and commercial development in the Porter Ranch area of Chatsworth was unveiled Wednesday at a Los Angeles Planning Department workshop.

Porter Ranch Development Co.'s plan calls for 3,000 homes and 7.5-million square feet of commercial space. Such a development would be among the largest in the city by a single landowner.

More than 100 people showed up at a public workshop Wednesday at Chatsworth High School and were handed a summary of the plan for which the developer is seeking city approval.

The plan would allow 2,200 single-family houses and 800 condominiums. The proposed commercial facilities would include a 1.5 million-square-foot regional shopping center, hotel space and neighborhood markets. The shopping center would include a moving pedestrian walkway. The plan does not specify the number of office buildings but says no building would be higher than 15 stories.

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The developer has proposed a 50-acre park and has made tentative plans to include a fire station, a police substation and cultural facilities that could include movie theaters.

“It will be almost like a city within a city,” said Richard C. Mahan, a Porter Ranch Development Co. spokesman.

The project would generate $400 million in tax revenue for the city in the 30-year construction period and $38 million a year afterward, the developer said. An aide to the developer estimated that the project will cost $2 billion.

Mahan bristled when the proposed project was compared to Warner Center, which he said contains some industrial development and apartments, not single-family homes. Single-family homes would occupy 1,110 acres of the 1,300 acres in the Porter Ranch project, he said.

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The existing ranch development encompasses a portion of Northridge.

Northwest San Fernando Valley residents who attended the workshop expressed a variety of opinions about the proposal.

Michael W. McFerrin, a Monteria Estates resident, said: “It’s got to be a positive thing for the community . . . . We need more places to shop.”

But others said they fear the project’s sheer size could exacerbate the area’s traffic problems.

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“The traffic is going to be horrible on the streets that are going in there,” said Ted Horton, of Northridge.

The Simi Valley Freeway should be widened before such a project is considered, Horton said.

Mahan said traffic in the area will be better with the project than without it. The developer plans to spend $50 million to $60 million on traffic improvements, such as computerized signals and completion of unfinished roads such as Rinaldi Street, Sesnon Boulevard and Corbin, Mason, Tampa and Winnetka avenues north of the Simi Valley Freeway, Mahan said.

“If those roads are not completed, and they won’t be completed unless the developer completes them, other development and traffic is just going to produce increasing pressure on the existing system,” Mahan said.

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But a traffic study prepared by the developer in conjunction with city transportation officials shows that the Porter Ranch development would generate 164,840 daily vehicle trips in the area.

The developer’s traffic improvements probably will make conditions better than they otherwise would be at heavily traveled intersections, but “in general, traffic is going to get worse,” said T.K. Prime, a senior city transportation engineer. “That’s urbanization.”

City Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the area, emphasized that the Planning Department has just begun to consider the proposal. The department is expected to schedule a public hearing on the developer’s specific plan early next year.

The plan was prepared in consultation with a 15-member committee of area residents and businessmen appointed by Bernson.

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