(Los Alamitos, Tuesday, 6/24/2014) The project’s been withdrawn, are there lessons to be learned?
In an unexpected move developer Steve Levenson today withdrew his application to build a four story, 133 unit mixed use complex on the old Lew Webb vacant lot on Los Alamitos Blvd.
It was barely a month ago, on May 28, that developer Steve Levenson e-mailed me to indicated “we are making major plan revisions. . . decreasing the number of units increasing the amount of retail, and a number of other modifications from comments/requests we have heard.” At that time Mr. Levenson anticipated the plan going before the Los Alamitos Planning Commission around the end of the year and coming before the City Council early in 2015.
Back in May Mr. Levinson was a bit surprised that the City required filing a complete Environmental Impact Report rather than using the faster (and less expensive) Mitigated Negative Declaration approach that our friends in Cypress seem so fond of. Still, in his May 28 e-mail the developer indicated “While this adds costs and time, we embrace the decision as that way a much more in-depth level of review will be prepared. . . and the public will have additional chances to follow the progress.”
One of the barriers to this project would not apply to projects south of Ganahl Lumber if the mixed-use zone in the proposed General Plan Revision is adopted. That was the required zone change from commercial, and the concerns of surrounding property owners like Gemini Forest Projects that an apartment complex was incompatible with their business just across the street.
Mr. Levenson had previously made it clear that any major changes would make the project economically unfeasible, especially a reduction in units or an increase in retail. If that is the case, one must wonder just how many units would be proposed on the Los Alamitos Plaza site, or any other site in the proposed “downtown” mixed use area where the builder isn’t starting with a vacant lot, but buildings with current value and additional costs of demolition.
The property is currently owned by the owner of the newer strip mall just across Serpentine from the property, and is zoned for retail.
Other options for the property might include multi-story retail/entertainment/restaurant conplex, or perhaps a park on part of the parcel to help anchor the proposed new downtown along Los Alamitos Blvd.
We have e-mails out to Mr. Levinson and Los Alamitos Community Development Director Stephen Mendoza, and will update this post or add a new one once we receive additional information from them.
In the meantime, your comments, diplomatically expressed, are encouraged.