HUNTINGTON BEACH : Downtown Project Hits Financial Snag

The fate of a condominium and commercial project proposed for the heart of downtown is in limbo, the City Council said this week, because redevelopment funds are not available.

Assistant City Administrator Ray Silver said at a meeting of the Redevelopment Agency that the project "doesn't pencil out" financially.

Silver said the downtown project is now estimated to cost the Redevelopment Agency $2.2 million more than anticipated.

Redevelopment funds were scarce anyway because of Southern California's recession, Orange County's December bankruptcy filing and changes in methods of allocating redevelopment dollars, Silver said.

Another hitch for the downtown project is that Roy H. Richardson, a former planning commissioner, has appealed its approval to the California Coastal Commission. The state agency is scheduled to hear the appeal next week in Carmel.

Meanwhile, local officials say, they will keep looking for ways to finance the project, which has already cost the city about $5 million for land acquisition.

"The agency is listening to the developer as to how he would suggest to do the project without the $2-million shortfall being a burden of the agency," Silver said at Monday's meeting.

Bounded by Main and 6th streets, Pacific Coast Highway and Walnut Avenue, the project includes six properties owned by 13 private entities as well as parcels owned by the redevelopment agency.

Plans calling for 80 condominiums and 40,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space won City Council approval in July, 1993. An agreement made at that time outlines terms of the development with Coultrup Cos., Birtcher Real Estate Ltd. and the property owners.

Jon Coultrup, president of Coultrup Cos., said Wednesday, "I'm very confident we'll come up with a plan that works for the city and that the City Council will approve."

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