By Amir Ghani/Orange County Tribune
Despite pleas from residents to vote against the amendments, new plans for an open-air, residential property-filled alternative to the current Westminster Mall have been approved.
A vote of 5-0 by the Westminster City Council on Wednesday night granted permission to investors to begin officially working on what could be built on their land. The council approved amendments to the original plan that were recommended by the city planning commission.
“You’ve decided it’s important for the community to focus on this new site, so thank you for that,” said senior planner Christopher Wong, who presented a report to the council and others present.
The presentation by staff was the result of a local study that showed the vision for the mall and also included the environmental impact report. The general plan outlined how the land was to be used by the four different companies that own it. At least 600,000 square feet of retail space, 3,000 residential units, and 17 acres of open space are required.
“Where do we want our visitors to go in Westminster? This is an opportunity to create those types of places,” said Wendy Nowak, a consultant for the city and principal In charge at Placework.
After the presentation, council members took time to ask questions and clarify certain topics from the new report.
“I remember fondly taking public transportation to the Westminster Mall; through this process I’ve met so many community members who share these same memories. This is something we can be proud of for the next generation,” said City Manager Christine Cordon.
Then, the public took its given time to share their thoughts on the issue.
“”It doesn’t take a planning expert to conclude Shopoff is trying to control this specific plan and the entire site. What does Shopoff want? Residential. What do residents want and what would be best for the city? Retail, with some entertainment and plenty of open space,” said one Westminster resident.
“We have invested a significant amount of money into this real estate. The goal is to make money,” said Stephen Logan, a representative for Shopoff.
Shelley Stevens, a Huntington Beach resident that lives near the mall property, spoke after Logan and said “at first” she was opposed to high density residential at the site but she has come around but only if it is a “good plan.”
Gordon Jones, a representative of True Life Companies, a residential company that is working on 3.6 acres of land on the property, agreed with Logan and his support for real estate.
One resident who spoke on Zoom said that the council should be more attentive toward the taxpayers’ requests instead of those of the investors.
“We always dreamed about having a new downtown and this could be our new downtown,” said Vice Mayor Carlos Manzo.
Remodeling the mall would be great ,it has needed that for years! Instead the owners have let it run down to eventually get here.They don’t want to make it beautiful with lovely restaurents and stores they want to put in apts just like Bella Terra and make the quaint beach cities and their residents miserable.