East Area 1 & 2: Council updated on
newly renamed Gateway projects

March 05, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThe voter approved East Area 1 and 2 developments will break ground early in 2015 the president of the company that owns the property told the City Council at the February 18 meeting.

Limoneira Co. President/CEO Harold Edwards said the 523-acre East Area 1 north of Highway 126 would hold 1,500 dwelling units and amenities. The parcel across the freeway, East Area 2, will be home to a 360,000 square foot retail/commercial/industrial center.

Edwards told the council he wanted to “lay down a timeline” and review “components we believe are very, very valuable pieces,” to the development and “future of Santa Paula.”

The project began early in 2004 when the city and Limoneira Co., which had acquired the former Teague-McKevett Ranch property in a mid-1990s merger, reached an agreement to develop the land.

First there was master planning, a year-long community charrette to determine development features based on the input of Santa Paulans and the creation of the Specific Plan.

Edwards said once environmental reviews and approval by the city’s Planning Commission and council was garnered, in 2008 voters approved the plan with “An 83 percent approval rating by the citizens of Santa Paula... “

Other work and layers of approval have followed and Edwards noted, “The final piece of the entitlement was LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) approval of the project... “  

The community is eager to learn more specifics of the proposed development: “This presentation is the answer to all of those questions,” and Edwards noted, “We really are excited to show this tonight, we think it’s a very good plan,” with housing at “various levels of affordability just at the point where the market,” is improving, and “people will be moving to Santa Paula.”

Now called The Gateway East I and Gateway East II project, Edwards said retail space has been reduced in the residential area to 20,000 square feet; there will also be 100,000 square feet of commercial space, 25,000 square feet of light industrial and about 20 acres total for an elementary and high school located in the northwest section of the property.

“We’re working closely with the new unified school district that is excited to see these additions to Santa Paula,” especially as a new school has not been built in the city since 1961.

Planned are the Hallock (250 apartments and 150 for-sale condos), Haun Creek (400 single-family houses), and Santa Paula Creek (350 single family dwellings) neighborhoods.

The Foothill Neighborhood (350 single-family housing and executive) will have larger lots and at its approximate 400-foot elevation, “Those lots just like the hillsides of Santa Paula, will have spectacular views,” and “Most likely be built last... “

The 54-acre civic district will have soccer fields that also act as a detention basin-”Our ultimate line of defense,” against Haun Creek flooding-as well as other sports fields, an amphitheater and school property; the lower commercial/light industrial district will have 50,000 square feet for healthcare facilities, a 5,000 square foot police and fire substation, light industrial and commercial retail.

Edwards envisions that although “We will continue to be the developer,” lots will be sold to a number of different developers and home prices will begin in the mid-$300,000s.

Limoneira, he added, “will be involved in the management through build-out,” although it will be later determined if a joint venture partner is involved.

When the project is completed, Santa Paulans will see that although delayed, “It was well worth the wait on the part of the community... “

Revisions to the Specific Plan, the tentative tract map, and other studies will be updated and submitted, “and once we’re approved,” through hearings projected for September, “We’re off to the races,” with permits secured and construction expected to start January 2015.

“We’re having discussions with a number of homebuilders that think Santa Paula is a wonderful place to build,” and although the life of the project is estimated to be a decade Edwards said it “may be faster depending on market conditions. We believe this project will represent 25 percent of all new homes to be built in Ventura County over the next 10 years.” 

Edwards said he is confident buyers will find “Not only is Ventura County a great place, Santa Paula is the best place.”

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