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Moreno Valley Community to House 35,000

December 08, 1985|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

The plan by the Robert P. Warmington Co. for the nearly 4,000-acre Moreno Valley Ranch planned community in the year-old city of Moreno Valley could turn out to prove that late planning is better than none at all.

Warmington's concept calls for a 20-year build-out, with 12,703 dwelling units on 1,704 acres of the 3,959-acre site in the southern part of the city, natural open space on 1,685 acres, a 10-acre civic center, 52 acres of commercial development, 28 acres of light industrial and the balance in parks, schools and roads.

With a build-out value estimated at $1.1 billion, the development will be the largest of its kind in Riverside County, adding about 35,000 residents to the fast-growing city. And, with about 1.3 million square feet of light industrial space, at least some of the new residents won't have to make the hour-long commute to Orange or Los Angeles counties.

'No-Frills' Houses

The first phase--with 3,282 residential units, 12 acres of commercial land, a 7-acre lake, 35 acres of parks and schools--is scheduled to be in construction during the second quarter of 1986.

When Robert P. Warmington, president of the Costa Mesa-based firm of the same name, took a look at Moreno Valley, he found a city of "no-frills single-family houses with limited design amenities and appeal."

(Competing builders who have found the area to be a prime development site for those who hunger for the kind of affordable single-family houses unobtainable in Orange County might dispute that assessment.)

Warmington also found that--in the absence of a master plan--the area lacked personality and a sense of community.

"The lack of commercial services had resulted in the development of random strip centers without the benefit of an overall plan or theme," he said.

During this time, the communities of Sunnymead, Edgemont and Moreno were incorporated as the city of Moreno Valley. Due east of the city of Riverside and March Air Force Base, along the Pomona (60) Freeway, the new city has about 60,000 residents living in 42 square miles, about twice the land area of Torrance.

At the time of its incorporation in the fall of 1984, Sunnymead became the second most populous city in Riverside County, behind Riverside and ahead of such long established communities as Palm Springs, Indio and Corona.

Despite its size, the new community shared many characteristics not with those cities but with Simi Valley in Ventura County, more than a hundred miles to the northwest.

In fact, Sunnymead was from the late 1970s up to the present what Simi Valley was to the 1960s and 1970s: A rapidly growing, freeway-oriented suburban bedroom community almost untouched by the influence of modern city planning. Even the topography is somewhat similar, with hills and rocky outcroppings adding variety to views in Simi Valley and Moreno Valley alike.

Many of the mistakes of the past are being corrected in Simi Valley and the city is becoming a popular headquarters town for financial and high-tech industries.

Warmington declined to name the builders that will be involved in the initial phase of development, saying that some contracts still remain to be signed, but he emphasized that his firm will maintain the master developer position and attract builder/partners to participate in the project over its build-out period well into the next century.

"We will build commercial projects and apartments, but all the single-family houses and other for-sale residential projects will be constructed by other builders," he said. "We will widen and improve the main access road to our property, Moreno Beach Drive."

The street is also the main access to Lake Perris, a major recreation area for the Inland Empire.

Warmington said that permanent open space will enhance the value of the development. A series of lakes will serve as flood control reservoirs, as well as providing a major recreation and aesthetic amenity.

In the western village area of the development, there will be a swimming and recreational facility and a day-care complex, while the eastern village area will feature a tennis and recreation complex, Warmington said.

The master plan is by Turrini & Brink, Santa Ana; Douglas Wood & Associates, Corona del Mar, prepared the environmental impact report. Traffic engineering is by Kunaman & Associates, Irvine. The civil engineer is J.F. Davidson Associates, Riverside.

Moreno Valley Mayor Marshall Scott is pleased with the project and the involvement of his city's planning commission: "There were a lot of competing interests that had to be satisfied with a project of this scope, and the Robert P. Warmington Co. went more than the extra mile to respond to those interests."

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