Garden Grove

Many ideas for Willowick development

ATTENDEES at Tuesday’s workshop in Garden Grove on future development of the the Willowick Golf Course site indicate their preferences for the project (Orange County Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano

A workshop Tuesday night on the potential fate of the Willowick Golf Course site revealed a few hints into the thinking that may go into redevelopment of the 101.5-acre piece of land. It’s owned by the City of Garden Grove but located within Santa Ana city limits.

The “Envision: Willowick” session was held in the Buena Clinton Youth and Family Center, the sole workshop on the project to be held in Garden Grove. The turnout was roughly the same as the first one held in Santa Ana.

Andrew Watkins, one of the principals of the SWA Group retained to develop ideas about the project, remarked about the vast potential of the site.

“There’s probably no one right idea for what Willowick should be,” he said.  “One hundred acres is a big site. The size and opportunity of a site that big in Orange County really is unique.”

Comparable developments were discussed, including the mixed-use Santana Row in San Jose, a stadium complex in Ottawa and the Victoria Gardens shopping center in Rancho Cucamonga.

One of the presenters spoke about the importance of honoring the history of the area – as one of several guiding principles – and gave special mention to the Red Car trolley line that ran along the Pacific Electric right-of-way from Los Angeles to Santa Ana in the first part of the 20th century.

The OC Streetcar project, slated to begin construction later this year, will use a section of the now-vacant line to join central Santa Ana to a transit stop on Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove. A streetcar stop is tentatively planned to serve the site along its northern border.

Linking the new use to the Santa Ana River Trail, which runs from Huntington Beach north 30 miles to the Orange County-Riverside county line was also mentioned as a possible feature of the eventual development.

Willowick is located north of 5th Street and south of the P.E. right-of-way that forms the border between the two cities. The Santa Ana River runs along the eastern edge of the site.

The final workshop will be held on Oct. 25 at Spurgeon Intermediate School in Santa Ana.

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