A major clothing manufacturer has proposed building a distribution center and factory outlet mall in Moorpark that could employ up to 700 people and bring the city about $150,000 a year in sales tax revenue.
Bugle Boy Industries Inc., the Simi Valley-based casual apparel manufacturer, has held preliminary discussions with Moorpark officials about building the facilities on a 33-acre site on Los Angeles Avenue at the west end of the city, said Peter Mow, project manager for Calterra Development Co., a Bugle Boy affiliate.
City officials are enthusiastic about the project, which would be the first factory outlet mall in Ventura County.
But they warn that the proposal may face stiff opposition from wealthy residents near the site. In addition, they said they are concerned that the mall would increase traffic on a congested stretch of Los Angeles Avenue.
As proposed, the Moorpark mall would have a 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot Bugle Boy store as its centerpiece, with another 20 to 25 stores selling goods such as name-brand footwear, china and home decorating accessories, Mow said.
The company would also build a warehouse and distribution center behind the mall, at the north end of the property, said Mayor Paul W. Lawrason Jr., who has seen the proposal.
Lawrason said he considers the proposal "an attractive, real exciting idea for the city."
"It will stimulate the economy," he said. "It will give our residents a place to go to shop for items they normally go out of the city for."
The mall would generate an estimated $15 million in annual sales, Mow said.
Using that figure as a basis, Moorpark would get $150,000 in sales tax revenues each year, Deputy City Manager Richard Hare said. The city's total budget is slightly more than $2 million.
But the mayor and other officials warned that Bugle Boy's proposal is likely to be opposed by residents of more than 260 homes in the Old Buttercreek housing tract, which is across Los Angeles Avenue from the vacant property.
Houses in Old Buttercreek sell for between $225,000 and $330,000, according to a local real estate agent. Although the neighborhood does not have a homeowners association, city leaders said the community of wealthy residents could mount aggressive opposition if they feared an increase from noise, pollution or traffic from the proposed mall.
Neighborhood opposition helped derail a proposed 87-acre factory outlet mall in Camarillo late last year.
But a main objection of Camarillo residents was that the mall was proposed for farmland.
In contrast, Mow said, the Bugle Boy property is a vacant lot, although it was used for crops before the company bought it 1 1/2 years ago.
In addition to residents' possible objections, city officials said they are concerned that traffic from the mall would further clog Los Angeles Avenue, which narrows to two lanes near the Bugle Boy property.
Bugle Boy would probably have to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to help pay for widening of Los Angeles Avenue and toward the eventual construction of a California 118 bypass, Lawrason said.
Company officials, in turn, are concerned that the city will ask them to contribute more money toward road improvements than they are willing to pay. "That's one of the reasons we can't commit" to the project right now, Mow said.
The company plans to submit a formal application for the project by the end of this year and, if it goes forward, would like to complete construction by early 1994, he said.
Although Bugle Boy has stores in factory outlet malls in Southern California, the Moorpark project would be the first time that the company developed and owned such a project, Mow said.
Mow is the nephew of William C. W. Mow, the former computer industry executive who founded Bugle Boy in the late 1970s and helped steer the company's annual sales to more than $200 million in its first 10 years of operation.
The Moorpark project would be the first factory outlet mall developed by Calterra, which primarily builds residential and commercial projects in Los Angeles, Mow said.
In addition to Moorpark residents, the mall would be expected to draw its clientele from Ventura County motorists who travel through Moorpark but do not stop to shop.
"You folks have enough traffic out there to support that kind of project," Mow said.