Garden Grove

Master Willowick developer to be sought

GARDEN GROVE and Santa Ana city councils met in joint session Tuesday night to consider reuse of the Willowick golf course. Above (left to right) are Kim Nguyen, Jose Solario, Thu-Ha Nguyen and Juan Villegas (Orange County Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano

With an eye toward moving quickly to expedite planning and development of the reuse of the Willowick Golf Course, the Garden Grove and Santa Ana city councils – meeting jointly Tuesday night – approved action to go ahead with creating a request for qualifications and proposals to solicit a master developer.

The combined councils met at the Garden Grove Community Meeting Center, heard public comments and reports from consultants on the possible futures of the 101.5-acre plot that is owned by the City of Garden Grove but located within Santa Ana City limits.

An ambitious deadline to advance the process was announced, with the RFQ/P finished by June and answers to the proposals received by the fall of 2019.

Several members of the co-joined councils spoke about the importance of moving with speed. “We have about one and-a-half years of a decent economy,” said Santa Ana City Councilman Jose Solorio. He suggested that each council form an ad hoc committee devoted to working on the project and Santa Ana begin the task of rezoning the property from open space to some kind of mixed-use.

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido proposed that the two cities undertake the Willowick enterprise as a joint powers authority, and split the financial return 50-50.

No decisions were made about what might become the new uses. Three “visions” that came out of community workshops – a stadium, a mixed-use campus, and agricultural/low density project – were presented by Andrew Watkins of SWA, a consulting group, concluding that the stadium idea was the least popular among those at the workshops, and the low-density choice the favored idea.

But as several councilmembers pointed out, the four community outreach events attracted 30 to 60 people each. The combined population of Garden Grove and Santa Ana is over 500,000 people.

Other points made at the meeting included:

  • Several Santa Ana councilmembers emphasized the importance of being careful not to adversely affect property and residents in the area adjacent to Willowick;
  • Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Nguyen noted that although the property is within Santa Ana’s borders, Willowick sits directly to the south of her district – the border being the Pacific Electric right-of-way, soon to be used as the route for the OC Streetcar – and that consideration for those neighbors be taken also;
  • Concerns were also expressed about the potential negative effects on traffic in the area, especially if a high-density development is built.

While three possible “visions” were noted, developers might propose re-use concepts very different from those that came out of the worships.

“I’m super-excited about this,” said Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones. “Let’s stay positive. Let’s stay together. We have an opportunity to do something absolutely great for both of our cities.”



1 reply »

  1. Rather than have a more building development what about a park. Lets talk more about bringing new green areas by respecting the need of our community to have a park where they can enjoy. When we need money cities always run to the voters. No more large building projects. Community PARK FIRST.

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