A group of Santa Ana residents and businessmen filed a lawsuit in Superior Court on Monday seeking to block the development of Centerpointe, the planned $85-million hotel and office complex in downtown Santa Ana.
The Alliance for Fair Redevelopment in Santa Ana, which recently filed another lawsuit aimed at providing more low-income housing in the city, and the Citizens Property Rights Committee, a group billing itself as "a nonprofit corporation acting to defend private property from government abuse" filed the suit against the city.
The suit asks the court to rule on the validity of an agreement between the city and the developers of the project, Carley Capital Group. It also seeks an injunction to stop construction pending a ruling on the suit.
To Include Glass Atrium
Centerpointe, planned for a 3.2-acre site southeast of Ross Street and Santa Ana Boulevard, would consist of a 15-story office building connected to an eight-story luxury hotel by a glass atrium spanning a large conference center. The City Council unanimously approved the project Aug. 20.
The suit lists 11 causes of action, including allegations that the project "exceeds the scope of the city's redevelopment plan" for the downtown area. The suit also contends that the property did not meet the conditions of "blight" required by state law for a city to declare an area eligible for redevelopment.
City Manager Robert C. Bobb, who said he had not read the suit late Monday, said the redevelopment plan specifically provides for the project and called the site's former condition "very blighted."
Alliance attorney David E. Llewellyn Jr. could not be reached Monday for comment on the suit.
Santa Ana's share of the project is expected to be about $18.2 million, which includes the cost of land acquisition, demolition of existing structures, relocation of former tenants and construction of a five-level parking structure accommodating 1,250 vehicles. The site has already been cleared.
Representatives of the alliance declined comment pending a news conference scheduled for today.
City to Lease Space
As part of the agreement, the city will lease about 72,000 square feet of office space and will be entitled to rent-free use of the conference center for 20 days each year. Staff reports estimate that city income in the first year of operation would be $1.4 million.
The project is the anchor for Santa Ana's ambitious plans to redevelop an aging downtown. Those plans also include the Westdome, a $30-million stadium tentatively planned for Flower Street and Civic Center Drive and the Fiesta Marketplace, a $10-million Latino-oriented shopping center to rise along 4th Street between Bush and French streets.
The alliance has also filed suit to halt another project, the construction of 194 luxury condominiums on a site bounded by 3rd, 4th, French and Minter streets. Attorney Salvador Sarmiento, who filed that action for the group, said it is intended to force the city to provide more low-income housing in the area. He said he is still waiting for the city's reply to that action.