Without the Price Club discount store, plans to develop Southpark in Fountain Valley as a major retail center appear headed for the shelf.
The San Diego-based chain announced Friday that it was withdrawing its plans to locate on a 140-acre site along the Santa Ana River north of Interstate 405.
Sam Price, founder of the firm, cited the controversy the project has generated in Fountain Valley in the chain's decision to keep open its Santa Ana facility instead. The Price Club facility had been expected to generate $1.5 million a year in sales tax revenue for the city.
Tuesday night, the City Council is scheduled to consider a referendum on the Sept. 1 ordinance that approved the two-million-square-foot project. However, both the leader of the citizens' group that called for the referendum and Mayor Barbara Brown agreed Saturday that Price's announcement makes the referendum moot.
"There won't be any need for a referendum," said Woody Young, a leader of Citizens for Maintaining the Quality of Life in Fountain Valley's Environment, the group which circulated petitions calling for the vote.
"There's no sense in going to a vote on this now," he said.
"I feel that the pullout is just a reaction to the Price Club's listening to the residents and coming to the conclusion that it wasn't in their best interest to continue with the project."
Young predicted that the City Council would vote to repeal the ordinance and proceed with Southpark as a manufacturing and commercial center. There are still problems with Southpark, he said, but there will be much less opposition to the revised project, because it would only generate 10% of the traffic.
"I don't see a positive reason for going forward" with the referendum, Brown said. "My main concern is about splitting the community even more. . . . We need to be working together instead of working against each other."
Brown said Southpark's opponents "need to realize that traffic is still going to come" to the project despite its reduced scope, but the revenue is not going to come.
"This is a time for us to work together to bring in more sales tax-generating operations," she said, "not fighting."