Garden Grove

Jones: high hopes and high-rises for GG

GARDEN GROVE MAYOR Steve Jones speaking Thursday at the "State of the City" luncheon at the Great Wolf Lodge (OC Tribune photo).

GARDEN GROVE MAYOR Steve Jones speaking Thursday at the “State of the City” luncheon at the Great Wolf Lodge (OC Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano

At times gleeful and at times a trifle nervous, Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones outlined a gleaming view of the community’s future in a speech Thursday at the annual “State of the City” event at the Great Wolf Lodge on Harbor Boulevard.

Before a crowd of over 500 people in a luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, Jones ticked off a host of new developments and programs coming to the Big Strawberry and tossed in one bombshell.

He told the audience that Investel, the company that recently purchased the Hyatt Regency Orange County hotel complex at the northwest corner of Chapman Avenue and Harbor Boulevard, “is planning a major renovation, including a 35-story tower consisting of 800 hotel rooms, leading to over 1,000 construction jobs.”

MAYOR STEVE JONES is optimistic about Garden Grove's future (OC Tribune photo).

MAYOR STEVE JONES is optimistic about Garden Grove’s future (OC Tribune photo).

At 35 stories, the tower would be the tallest building in Garden Grove, and – depending on its ultimate height – possibly the tallest in all of Orange County. Garden Grove’s Hyatt, by comparison, is listed as 16 stories high.

Another new major development unveiled by the mayor is a new housing community on the site of what was, until recently, St. Callistus Catholic Church at Lewis Street and Garden Grove Boulevard.

According to Jones, Shea Homes, Inc. will build 70 single-family houses at that location. When the Catholic Diocese of Orange County purchased the former Crystal Cathedral at Chapman and Lewis – now the Christ Cathedral – that set in motion a site swap between the parishes at St. Callistus with what’s now called Shepherd’s Grove.

Jones listed several other major developments coming to the city, including:

  • a three-hotel project on Harbor (just south of the Target department store), which will include 769 rooms and be worth $450 million. Jones called it “the biggest and most exciting project in the city’s history.”
  • a Nickelodeon-themed hotel on the opposite (west) side of Harbor.
  • a 120-room Hilton hotel south of the Garden Grove Freeway on Harbor, on the site of what was once a Mazda car dealership.

jones-quote-oneThe transient occupancy revenue from the city’s growing row of hotels has made the city’s financial future “solid,” said Jones. For the first time, he said, the “bed tax” from tourists has exceeded sales tax in revenue to the city. Much of the city’s new revenue will go toward building up the police and fire departments. But he also devoted considerable time to two less vertical projects.

First on his list is the Cottage Industries plan for an older-single family home neighborhood near the Civic Center west of 9th Street. The city owns many of those buildings and visionary developer Shaheen Sadeghi – the man behind the Packing House food hall in Anaheim and the LAB in Costa Mesa – is planning to turn the area into a hip mixed-use zone with micro-breweries, art galleries, small offices and more.

jones-quote-two“When Shaheen told me this will be his coolest project yet, I got goosebumps,” said Jones, who says the city must do more to attract “millennials” and take a new approach to designing the community’s future.

He also praised the city’s Open Streets program, which seeks to emphasize pedestrian and bicycle traffic and cut down on the use of automobiles which consume land for streets and parking.

In closing, he urged residents of the city to take a more active role in remaking the city, picking up trash, helping the homeless, making suggestions to city officials about improvements. Using a clip from the “Kung Fu Panda” animated film, Jones made the point that “there is no secret ingredient. It’s just you. To make Garden Grove special, we just have to pull together and believe that Garden Grove is special.”


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