The past two years have marked the most productive period in the city’s two decades of redevelopment, according to a new report by the Redevelopment Agency.
Most of the major developments in the city’s five targeted areas are either finished or well under way. But some obstacles still lie ahead, the report found.
New redevelopment projects completed during fiscal years 1987-88 and 1988-89 totaled $400 million. In the Main-Pier project area, the cornerstone of the redevelopment effort, two major condominium projects, which combined are valued at $36.5 million and total 223 units, were completed.
Meanwhile, council members rejected a proposed 10-story hotel at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, which many downtown residents argued would have spoiled the “village concept” of the area’s redevelopment plans.
Additionally, construction began on the $55-million initial phase of the Waterfront project, which includes a 12-story, 296-room hotel-restaurant-convention complex, due to open in July. Including the Waterfront hotel project, located on Pacific Coast Highway between Beach Boulevard and Huntington Street, $149 million in new construction is under way in the project area.
Other major developments completed during the period include a 120,000-square-foot building in the Talbert-Beach project area, now leased to Southwest Quilted Products.
“After stagnating for 20 years, we’ve finally seen redevelopment in this city move forward in the past two years,” said Councilman Wes Bannister.
Other council members, however, contended that the development during 1987-89 was a result of two often-painstaking decades of work.
“There have been a lot of things that have come to fruition in the last two years, but in reality, all the planning and negotiating and all of that have been spread out over a number of years,” Councilwoman Grace Winchell said.
“Sure, there were a lot of things that didn’t prove to work out that came tumbling down (in 1986 and 1987). But we regrouped and came up with some different plans that have worked. I just think the timing was right. But it does look good.”
Still, a number of problems remain. State officials recently challenged the city’s proposed Pierside Village project, questioning whether the city can legally develop land on either side of the pier now designated for public beaches.
Some downtown property owners are continuing their opposition to proposed Main-Pier area projects, which ultimately could escalate into court battles.
And several major development agreements hinge on a consensus by residents, developers and government agencies, some of which are far from being reached.
“There are still some difficult questions to resolve,” Winchell said.