Commission approves Ayres project

The Fountain Valley Planning Commission voted Wednesday to approve a four-story hotel, 88 residential units and retail space near the 405 Freeway in place of a vacant insurance company.

The vote, however, flew in the face of many residents who oppose the traffic, density and noise they say the project will bring to their neighborhood.

The Fountain Valley Civic Center Specific Plan, which was brought forward by the Olson Co. and Ayres Hotels, passed in a 3-to-2 vote with Chairman Bradley Gaston and commission member Carol Proctor opposing, said Fountain Valley Planning Secretary Amanda DeForest.

The project is scheduled to go before the City Council March 6.

The 124-room Ayres Hotel will take up about two of the 8.62 acres in the 17000 block of Brookhurst Street. The rest of the land will consist of 61 townhomes, 27 single family homes and 2,300 square feet that could be used for retail, such as dining and shopping, or a storage facility, said Planner Steven Ayers.

There's also a police department storage facility that could remain in place or be replaced by retail, Ayers said.

The project is expected to revitalize the area and bring businesses in place of the insurance company, which has been vacant for at least seven years. But residents say the project will bring crime, traffic congestion and lack of parking.

Some have circulated fliers around the neighborhood asking residents to oppose the project. A packed room of residents spoke against the project during the Feb. 8 Planning Commission meeting, when it was originally scheduled for a vote.

Don Ayres, a principal for the family-owned hotel company, said he understands the concerns of the residents but sees the project as a positive addition to the city.

"We understand the concerns of everyone, but I think the Olson Co. has done a great job in downsizing the project, and it's been a great partnership for us because we feel they've done a great job," Ayres said. "Overall, it'll work its course. People down the road will say, 'This is OK. This will be a benefit in the long run.' We all see it in all of our neighborhoods."

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