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Autoplex demolition goes to City Council for review

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A rendering shows a revised proposal for a 719-unit self-storage facility that would replace much of the Autoplex strip mall at 375 Bristol St. in Costa Mesa. 

(Courtesy of city of Costa Mesa)

After splitting two rounds in front of the Planning Commission, a proposal to replace much of an existing strip mall on Bristol Street with a large self-storage facility will go before the Costa Mesa City Council for review.

Council members are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to allow demolition of most of the Autoplex center at 375 Bristol so the property’s owners can build 719 new storage units in a two-story building.

The owners of the 3.2-acre property, Sanderson J. Ray Development of Newport Beach and Cardinal Development of Costa Mesa, also propose retaining 12,500 square feet, roughly a third of the existing retail space on the site.

That would allow some current tenants — such as the Sandwich World, Sushi Imari and some auto-related businesses restaurants — to remain on the property.

Developers originally had sought permission to raze the entire complex to make room for 774 storage units and a freestanding 5,000-square-foot food hall.

Facing vehement opposition from many Autoplex business owners and their patrons, the Planning Commission gave the project a thumbs-down in June and urged the property owners to work with the tenants who would be displaced.

Commissioners earlier this month unanimously endorsed the revised project, which also scraps the food hall component.

The changes won support from some business owners who had fought against the original concept.

“I think this is a compromise, and it’s probably the best compromise that we were going to come to if this project was going to move forward,” Sandwich World owner George Bean told the Planning Commission earlier this month.

It’s not all roses at the Autoplex, though. Some business owners still face the boot from the site and told the Planning Commission it might be too expensive for them to relocate.

Others worry the project could cost the city tax revenue or cause people to lose their jobs.

Project spokesman Paul Freeman has said redeveloping the site is necessary because the existing center is not economically viable in the long term.

The current proposal, he told the Planning Commission, would reduce traffic in the area and significantly upgrade the look of the property. The site’s proximity to John Wayne Airport also presents challenges in what can be built there, he added.

 

Sobeca district item returns

At their Oct. 17 meeting, the three council members present considered an urban plan amendment to allow as many as 450 residential units, at densities of up to 40 units per acre, to be built in the city’s Sobeca district — a 39-acre area around The Lab and The Camp shopping centers on Bristol.

As that discussion wound down, Councilwoman Sandy Genis abruptly left the council dais and walked out of City Hall.

She later told the Daily Pilot her departure was a parliamentary maneuver aimed at halting the meeting and preventing the Sobeca amendment, which she opposes, from being adopted.

The other two council members present, Mayor Steve Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, hurriedly voted to pass the item as Genis left.

Following the meeting, there was some uncertainty as to whether that vote was sufficient to approve the item, according to city spokesman Tony Dodero.

“Because of the ambiguity surrounding the vote, staff believes it’s appropriate to bring this item back for council action,” he said Friday.

The development capacities proposed for Sobeca are already outlined in the recent update to the city’s general plan, but the council needs to amend the urban plan to make the two documents consistent.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 5:45 p.m. in City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

luke.money@latimes.com

Twitter: @LukeMMoney