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HUNTINGTON BEACH | COMMUNITY NEWS FOCUS

Block-Long Project Gets Go-Ahead

February 28, 1997|STEVE CARNEY

Construction is scheduled to begin in May on a long-delayed development downtown that take up an entire block and include townhouses, big-name shops and a restaurant.

The $24-million Plaza Almeria, also known as Third Block West, won approval this week from the Planning Commission, after an initial hearing two weeks ago. The builder, JT Development, made design changes based on comments from that meeting and a second one with concerned residents.

"The original project was very massive," Commission Chairman Ed Kerins said. But JT Development revised plans for the project--bordered by Main and 5th streets and Olive and Orange avenues. It added attractive architectural features and created a sidewalk plaza where the original plans had only a narrow walkway between the buildings and Main Street, Kerins said.

Business owners had complained about the elimination of some street parking and the size of the original plan. But the changes seemed to mollify most of the detractors, said Kerins and Stephen Kohler, project manager for the Huntington Beach Department of Economic Development.

The first of the 45 homes should open in spring 1998, with the commercial sites opening the following summer, Kohler said.

JT Development first won approval for the project in 1991 but a lawsuit by a landowner and a redesign spurred by changing economic conditions delayed its creation, Kohler said.

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