Developers of a proposed $2-billion Ormond Beach community and marina resort in Oxnard have unveiled plans to virtually double its size.
The expanded project would span 2,900 acres--nearly five square miles--and would include 10,500 homes as well as a 1,600-slip marina, hotels, and commercial space.
Under the revised proposal, the project would not be completed within 15 years, as had been planned, but within 25 years, said officials of the developer, Irvine-based Baldwin Co., at an Oxnard City Council meeting Tuesday.
The new proposal drew mixed reaction from the council, with Councilman Michael A. Plisky, who has criticized the city's involvement in Ormond Beach, expressing strong reservations about the changes.
"When we first saw this project, it covered 341 acres; now it's expanded 10 times," Plisky complained after the meeting. "It's already such a departure from what had previously been discussed, who's to say what it will look like six to eight months from now?"
City Councilman Manuel Lopez, however, was more optimistic, noting that the increased time that would be devoted to the project could also heighten its quality.
"I think that if it takes a long time and is done well enough, we can absorb it," he said.
Baldwin officials said they could not justify the $70-million-plus cost of building the marina without boosting residential development from 6,500 units to 10,500 units. "We analyzed the cost of putting in the public marina and saw we needed a larger development to cover the cost," Baldwin president Jim Baldwin explained after the meeting.
Originally 1,600 Acres
As originally proposed in October by Vista Pacific Development Co. of Woodland Hills, which subsequently transferred its option to buy 341 key acres to Baldwin, the project was to have covered 1,600 acres.
The new plans call for fewer hotels and more residential development. The developers said that under the smaller plan, fewer of the plants and factories that ring Ormond Beach could have been bought. Ormond Beach is to be the centerpiece of the new resort.
Although next to undeveloped properties, Ormond Beach is now home to several heavy industries as well as a sewage treatment plant and an electrical power plant.
Baldwin project manager Jim Harter said the company hopes to acquire Halaco, an aluminum recycling plant that has been investigated by the California Coastal Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and Ventura County for alleged damage to wetlands in the area.
Harter also pledged to preserve the environmentally sensitive marshes.
The new proposal, which comes as a third development company is challenging Baldwin's option on city-held property, will probably increase debate on the project, which would create an entire community largely fronting on canals to be excavated by the developer.
Also setting the stage for controversy, the 1,300-acre expanded project would cover agricultural land outside Oxnard's city limits, according to Oxnard Redevelopment Director Steven L. Kinney.
County growth guidelines severely restrict development in such unincorporated areas.
The city's redevelopment agency has attempted to spur development at Ormond Beach by acquiring 341 waterfront acres in the hope of selling the $23-million property to a developer.
Last October, it agreed to sell 127 acres of the site to Vista Pacific, which the next month sold Baldwin its rights to the property.
The $12.75-million sale to Baldwin is scheduled to be completed Nov. 30. City officials are expected to approve the sale of the remaining 214 acres to Baldwin next Tuesday.
But a dispute that has recently surfaced between Vista Pacific and another company claiming it has the option to buy the entire 341 acres may unexpectedly delay development there.
In a letter to city officials that was disclosed last week, a development group identifying itself as the Reviva Partnership said Vista Pacific had acted improperly in transferring the property rights, which it said rightfully belong to Reviva.
Vista Pacific president Virgil Doerfler acknowledged that he originally represented Reviva in the October transaction, but when Reviva failed to meet the terms of the agreement, Doerfler said, he turned the rights over to Baldwin.
"I had an agreement with them to come up with 49% of the principal, but they didn't have the money," he said.
An attorney for Reviva could not be reached for comment.
Although Assistant City Manager John Tooker said the dispute may delay the development, city officials generally downplayed its importance.
"Assuming it's an issue--and we don't know that it is one--it doesn't affect the city," said City Manager David Mora. "We've got an agreement with Baldwin, and we think we've got a very tight one. It's between Baldwin and these other people."