AeroLofts: Planning Commission
approves revised airpark project

July 02, 2014
Santa Paula News

A long dormant project that was a victim of the Great Recession is about to take off after the Planning Commission approved some modifications to a unique airpark.

The airpark issue was separate from the bid by Spears Manufacturing Co. to construct a helipad at its West Santa Barbara Street facility, which drew numerous speakers to the meeting. The helipad was denied by the commission, 3-1. 

When it came to the airpark, the commission - sans Fred Robinson, who was absent from the meeting - approved the request by Three Flyers, LLC for variances to the 37-unit project, located  just east of the Santa Paula Airport.

The airpark will sit on 6.97 acres and offer buyers the opportunity to purchase hangars near the famed airport.

It was first approved in 2007, just in time for the sharp economic downturn that stalled the project and downsized the developers from Four Flyers, LLC to the present Three Flyers, LLC.

The two-story units will range from 1,623 square foot hangars with 1,429 square foot second story living spaces to 2,423 square foot hangars with 2,043 living quarters.

Assistant Planner Caesar Hernandez told the commission the design of the project, called Chaparral AeroLofts, would evoke the 1930s “golden age of aviation” and provide hangar space for various aircraft as well a car.

“Unlike previous applications the upstairs would be shells,” that would be finished later under separate permits to ready them for occupancy.

Commissioner John Wisda asked about lot ownership and was told the buyer would own the property.

Wisda also questioned drainage and other water related issues.

Commissioner John Demers asked the “driving factor” behind not offering a finished upstairs living unit.

A shell, “Seems to be a less desirable structure,” that had Demers “wondering if this is making it a potentially less viable or unviable project... “

Applicant representative Bill Lindsay told the commission the original concept was for two-bedroom upstairs units with a full kitchen and granite countertops, among amenities. 

“We had a list of 100,” aviators interested in purchasing airpark units which at one point had a projected sales price “touching $800,000 to $850,000... “

But, noted Lindsay, “with reversals in the market,” the project was stalled.

Now, he added, purchasers can custom design the second-story into one or two bedroom living spaces.

Wisda asked about in-lieu fees, the cost for developers that build a certain amount of units that triggers a requirement to provide a percentage of units for low- and very-low income households. 

With airplane ownership a caveat of purchase at AeroLofts the applicant asked that instead of providing four to five units of affordable housing that they pay the fee, revenue that Wisda questioned.

According to the staff report, the applicant would pay about $268,000 for in-lieu fees, a figure based on the average sales price value of the living space only, not including the hangars.

Wisda wanted and received assurances the City Council would control spending of the in-lieu fees although he questioned the necessity of charging the developer for same.

“We have a real jewel with our airport out here and this is a good addition,” said Commissioner Ike Ikerd.

“It will probably be an economic boost,” he added, and “if someone wants to move ahead with it perhaps that says our local economy,” is improving.

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