On Monday, less than two weeks after The Times first reported the Angels and the city of Anaheim had revived talks on a new stadium lease, the team lost a bid to prevent a large-scale development adjacent to the parking lot controlled by the team.
The Anaheim Planning Commission dismissed the Angels' objections and unanimously voted in favor of a 15-acre complex of shops, restaurants, offices, residences and a hotel. The Anaheim City Council has the final say on the project and is expected to vote on it within the next two months.
A city-issued fact sheet noted that the project, at the northeast corner of State College Boulevard and Orangewood Avenue, would include a 30-story residential tower "with views of Angel Stadium" and an outdoor entertainment center — similar to the Grove in Los Angeles — with "places to eat and drink before and after Angels games."
In a letter to the city, Angels attorney Allan Abshez wrote that the project would "cannibalize the Angels' existing food, beverage and retail operations at Angel Stadium" and "fundamentally undermine the Angels' negotiations to remain in Anaheim over the long term."
Those negotiations have focused on the Angels as the developer of a "sports-entertainment-hotel" project, and the team argued that approving a similar project on adjacent property would make it less likely that a second such project could be profitable enough for the team to fund stadium renovations.
The city has ruled out paying for stadium upgrades. The negotiations have focused on the team developing part of the parking lot, then using profits from that development to recoup the costs of stadium renovations.
Angels Chairman Dennis Kuhl told the planning commission that the project approved Monday "irreparably harms" the stadium and the team and would be an impediment to further development for a decade "at a minimum."
Monday's vote could complicate negotiations between the team and the city, but it is not expected to end them.
After Monday's vote, the lead developer of the 15-acre project said his company would be delighted to work with the Angels on developing their share of the stadium parking lot. Angels owner Arte Moreno has no large-scale development experience.
"From our point of view, we'd like to partner with them on it," said Randy Jefferson, executive director of project development for LT Global Investment.
In a statement, Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said the city believes there is ample opportunity for the Angels to be involved in remaking the stadium area along the lines of LA Live outside Staples Center, or the areas surrounding AT&T Park in San Francisco or Petco Park in San Diego.
"We see a lot of room and opportunity around the stadium," Lyster said.
In the moments before Monday's vote, Anaheim Planning Commission Chairman Mitchell Caldwell asked: "Is there any evidence that a project like this would hurt another developer?"
Hearing nothing from city staff, Caldwell proceeded to open the vote. The project was approved, 4-0.
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