By Jim Tortolano
While 2021 wasn’t a spectacular year for “sticks in the ground” of development in Garden Grove, the year nearly gone has teed up a lot of long-awaited projects to begin construction in 2022.
That’s the word from Lisa Kim, the city’s community and economic development director, who also serves as an assistant city manager.
“We’ve been busy,” she said in a recent interview in City Hall. “There’s been a huge interest in development, both in residential and commercial, and we don’t see it slowing down.”
While she concedes that the coronavirus pandemic may have pent up the process of bringing long-held plans to fruition, “we’re now seeing positive movement.”
Here’s a status report on the projects slated to make some news in the coming year.
- Willowick: This city-owned golf course is located in Santa Ana and has been the source of continuing speculation and controversy for several years. It’s been complicated by the influence of the updated Surplus Land Act on the 102-acre site. “We’re currently in negotiations with … prospective proposers,” said Kim, which include developers with experience in commercial and residential development. “Hopefully we’ll reach some refinement of their proposals in the first quarter of 2022.
- Harbor hotels: Site C (on the east side, south of the Target Department store) will include a Kimpton, 200-room “boutique” operation and Le Meridien (400 rooms). “They started construction on utility work about a month ago,” said Kim. “We anticipate that process to take about four to six months.” After that, it’s expected to take about 30 month to finish construction. Across the street (south of the Sheraton) a Nickelodeon-themed hotel is going through the environmental review process.
Downtown/Civic Center: The long-awaited Cottage Industries project, reusing and adapting vintage housing from Civic Center Drive to 9th Street, is back in motion after years of delays. “The developer has building permits and right now is working with Edison to address project power needs, and is otherwise ready to go. They have five tenants in some level of lease negotiations.” Expected among the early stars of the Cottage area on 9th Street is Smoke Queen BBQ, a fusion of Western smoking techniques with some Chinese flavors. That’s to be part of the Farm Block, with construction slated to follow the first of the year. On the historic Main Street, the three-story Smallwood Plaza mixed-use development is on the way, with ground-breaking expected to start soon.
- Uptown (Brookhurst/Chapman): The arrival of the Sprouts Farmers’ Market grocery store has led to a jolt of activity in the city’s main retail area. In that Pavilion Plaza West, still on the way are an Ulta beauty store, a Mattress Firm and a Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop. Additionally, The Habit will be bringing its upscale burgers to the area and several other shops – to be named later. Despite the move toward online shopping, “I think brick and mortar stores are not going away. They’re still in high demand,” said Kim.mAcross the street at the Regal 16 cineplex, she’s not worried about the impact of streaming video and social distancing on the long-term prospects for movie houses including the anchor of the Promenade center. “If the latest release of the Spider-Man movie is any indicator” –it grossed $1 billion in its opening weekend – “I see it having a comeback.”
- West Grove: In the Valley View commercial corridor on the west side, the rebranded West Grove Center is headed toward many changes. A drive-through Starbucks is under construction, as is the expanded cinema. The bowling alley is returning and – if the planning commission approves – it will feature karaoke as part of the attraction.On the eastern side of Valley View, the broker for that site at Cerulean Avenue is “aggressively marketing that site for an eatery.”
And for those who predicted that the project formerly known as the “rusty skeleton” would never be built, Kim said that construction would be finished by the end of the first quarter for the 390 affordable units in the Garden Brook Village .
But, as Apple’s Steve Jobs used to say: “One more thing.” Kim wrapped up the interview with a teaser. “There’s some dynamic news on the horizon,” she said.
More? Any more development would not only put Garden Grove on the map, it might mean we need a bigger map.
Categories: Garden Grove