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Moorpark to Give Up Land, Get Park Building

The largest residential developer in Moorpark, Urban West Communities, has entered into an agreement with the city to build a $1-million community center in exchange for permission to expand a proposed commercial center onto land set aside for public use.

Moorpark City Manager Steve Kueny said the agreement allows the city to have a community center that could not have been built “in the near future” because of a lack of city funds.

The center, to be built off Tierra Rejada Road southwest of downtown Moorpark, will feature a full-size basketball court, a stage, meeting rooms and a kitchen. It will be styled after a community building in Borchard Park in Newbury Park. Construction should begin next year, said Tom Zanic, Urban West vice president.

The city, in turn, has agreed to allow Urban West, a Santa Monica-based firm that developed Mountain Meadows, a 2,500-home planned community, to expand a proposed shopping center onto three acres that the developer had set aside for public use.

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The community-use acreage was required by the city when it gave the nod in January, 1988, to the final 1,000 Mountain Meadows homes. The project, to be completed in 1992, includes two elementary schools, a new high school, the shopping center and a 69-acre park where the community center will be built. The new homes will be priced from $300,000 to $450,000, company officials said.

‘Bend Over Backwards’

Moorpark City Councilman Paul Lawrason, who worked on the four-month negotiations, said Urban West had been very generous in the arrangement. “I realize that Urban West never does anything from the standpoint of generosity, but they did bend over backwards for this,” he said.

Zanic said Urban West’s “business in Moorpark happens to be a large one--and it’s a risky business of home building--but our attitude is to be as good a community member as one can be.” Although he said his company is in business to make money, “the good marketplace of the past several years allows us to give back to the community.”

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Relations between Urban West and the city have not always been good. Soon after receiving permission to build its final phase, the company sued the city over a municipal slow-growth initiative, adopted in 1986, that limits the building of residential units to 250 a year. Urban West claimed that it was exempt from the process because Mountain Meadows is a planned community.

The court found in favor of Urban West, ruling that the city had granted preliminary approval to the entire development before the initiative was approved.


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