Civic Center plan gets more time

CITY of Westminster Civic Center (OC Tribune photo).

A third amendment to a negotiating agreement for the potential redevelopment of the Westminster Civic Center into a mixed-use project combining public and private uses was approved by the City Council on a 3-1-1 vote Wednesday night. Councilmember Tai Do abstained and Councilmember Sergio Contreras voted “nay.”

The vote gives Sheldon Development LLC and the city one more year – to November 2021 – to complete a variety of steps including fiscal and feasibility studies and an analysis of environmental impact.

It’s the third extension to the original ENA (exclusive negotiating agreement) and the proposal, which dates back to 2017.

Developer Steve Sheldon, during public comments, said the intention was to “enhance and activate the Civic Center area” by replacing older municipal buildings with newer ones and bring residential development into the area.

“Is this what we want or what someone else wants?” asked Contreras. He inquired when members of the public would get a chance to say “what the public wants.”

A public meeting could be held in March 2021, he was told. Mayor Tri Ta suggested a special meeting earlier, in the next few weeks to help further define the project.
The site under consideration is generally bounded on the north by Westminster Boulevard, on the south by 13th Street, on the west by Jackson Street and on the east by All American Way.

As envisioned on maps submitted by Sheldon Development on Wednesday, some existing buildings in the Civic Center would be demolished and replaced.

Two possible configurations are contemplated.

In the first, a new two-story city hall would be built facing Westminster Boulevard, adjacent to a “civic plaza.” The new structure – planned to be 22,500 square feet – would have the council chambers and a youth and family center on the first floor and city administrative offices on the second.

Depending on demand for space, a portion of the existing but underutilized police headquarters building south of the city hall, might be used for city administrative offices.

A 30,000-square foot community park is seen at the east side facing All American Way, between parking and the police building.

Under the second possible site plan, a new smaller – 15,000-square-foot – city hall building would be tucked against a single story wing of the police building. That would leave room for a community “open space” area running along All American Way from Westminster Boulevard to just north of the proposed city hall.

The largest part of the project in either case would be 103 new three-story condominiums generally in the northwestern area of the site. Intact would be the grassy mall that runs through the center of the site.

Not included are the courtroom and administrative facilities that comprise the West Justice Center, operated by the County of Orange.

Community activist Terry Rains had this to say about the project:

“The city has failed to enforce the terms of the ENA from day one, which could present legal challenges down the road. Sheldon has repeatedly lapsed on deposit requirements. The current working document was signed on Sept.11, 2019.

“Sheldon was required to present conceptual plans 45 days after that date but didn’t do so until 336 days later. He was also required to hold community meetings and take public comment on these “new”conceptual plans which has not happened. He was also supposed to present a detailed Financial and Funding Source report with commitments from surrounding property owners 60 days prior to the expiration of the ENA period. “What we finally saw on Aug. 12t of this year is a joke.

Sheldon outright lied about having a $5 million commitment from Coastline Community College. You’ve heard plenty from the college about that lie. He also alleged another $1 million would come from ‘park grants, naming rights, grants, etc.’ Seriously?”



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