Alternatives Weighed for Baldwin Acreage

Oxnard's Economic Development Corp. announced this week that it wants to study alternatives to a plan by a financially troubled developer to build 351 homes near Ormond Beach.

The nonprofit agency, formed to help stimulate business in Oxnard, has asked a Calabasas consultant to conduct an $8,000 study on potential uses for the site.

"We think that the better use of the property is for business development of some kind," Economic Development Corp. President Steve Kinney said Wednesday, adding that several local businesses may help pay for study. "We want to see something that is job-generating, a kind of development of the property that will bring additional economic stimulation into Oxnard and that is more compatible with the existing development there."

The Baldwin Co., now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, owns the 33-acre site and is set to go before the City Council with a revised development proposal in March. Kinney and Louis J. Malone, president of Baldwin's Ventura County / Los Angeles division, said the Economic Development Corp. has approached the company about purchasing the land.

But the Economic Development Corp. has not decided to make a formal offer, Kinney said.

Malone said Baldwin is committed to the Oxnard development, called Village West. "We are not taking any active steps to sell the land right now," he said.

Since the Baldwin Co. declared bankruptcy in July, the company has secured an interim financing plan while it awaits an $85-million loan to repay debts and restore full operations.

Critics of the Village West project say the south Oxnard site is the wrong place for homes. The parcel is near several factories and a sensitive wetland inhabited by several endangered species.

But some residents in the area say a residential development would help reverse the neighborhood's decline.

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