As the wheels grind toward coming up with a concept for development of the Willowick Golf Course site (owned by thre City of Garden Grove but within Santa Ana city limits) you can also hear the faint rumble of a railroad track.
At Tuesday’s “Envision Willowick” workshop at the Buena Park Youth and Family Center in Garden Grove (suggested mightily by The Tribune), the SWA group – which is in charge of helping to offer and spark ideas for the future use of the 101.5-acre site, opened with an emphasis on “taking inspiration from the historic Red Car town.”
The Red Car line – as you may know – ran from Los Angeles southeast down through Orange County – from the early part of the 1900s through mid-century. A passenger and freight line, it transformed Garden Grove from a sleepy village into a busy agricultural town, as well as fired the growth of Santa Ana as the “downtown” of the OC.
So what’s the connection? A railroad-themed development with “neo-traditional” building design? Or perhaps some emphasis on the planned – but not yet promised – stop along the old P.E. (that is, Red Car) right-of-way for the OC Streetcar scheduled to begin construction later this year.
The streetcar would be a way for tourists (and residents) to connect from central Santa Ana – in one direction – and the hotel row on Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove – from the other to Willowick.
The Garden Grove connection
There’s a fair amount of “so what?” coming from some in the City of Youth and Ambition about the streetcar and Willowick’s future. Here are some reasons why it’s significant.
- The OC Streetcar could be just the “starter” section of a countywide light rail system.
- Many of the folks who work in the Harbor hotels live in Santa Ana, so the streetcar is likely to have strong ridership fairly quickly, as it connects to bus routes along that street.
- Some people think that Willowick is nowhere near Garden Grove; some – on social media – even think it’s in Orange. One reason for the confusion is that the address for Willowick is on 5th Street, but northern edge of the property is the P.E. right-of-way, mere feet from Garden Grove’s southern city limits. Put another way, if you are in that area, it would take you about two minutes to cross from one city to the next. If you walk slow.
- Disneyland (and its various expansions) has grown beyond its original dimensions. Directly north of Willowick is a large mobile home park located in Garden Grove. Developers are already starting to snap up such parks for more profitable (for them) uses. A successful Willowick project could easily expand across city limits into the GG.
Still up in the air?
Time passes so quickly. It’s almost time again for the annual Huntington Beach air show. The event is scheduled for Oct. 19-21 and could bring up to a half million to the area to watch jet- and prop-driven planes strut their stuff in the air around the city pier.
Despite the turnout, all has not been fluffy clouds for everyone. Breitling, the high-end watch manufacturer that sponsored the show in 2016 and 2017, pulled out after two years, citing large financial losses, despite city efforts to reduce the costs charged to the sponsor.
This year it’s The Great Pacific Air Show with some new planes and events. Over the previous years, some local residents and merchants complained about noise, crowding and traffic.
Certain eateries and drinking spots reported a dropoff in business on that weekend, as regular customers stayed away to avoid the perceived congestion.
On the other hand, there were many voices saying the show brought many people to the area to get a look at what Huntington now offers, instead of just surfing.
So, can the third year of the air show really take off and please both factions? We’ll see.
For more on the event, go to www.pacificairshow.com/FAQ.
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