Billed seven years ago as one of the largest residential and retail development projects in the city, the Porter Ranch project is finally underway after long delays.
In April, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a scaled-down version of the planned community.
The first phase of the massive development project is the Porter Ranch Towne Center, a 660,000 square-foot retail shopping center north of the Reagan Freeway on Rinaldi Street between Corbin Avenue and Winnetka Avenue.
Later, plans call for the construction of nearly 3,400 homes and apartments, plus restaurants and other stores.
Work on the first phase is due to be completed in late 1998 or early 1999, said Richard Mahan, spokesman for the Porter Ranch Development Co., the project's developer.
"It's probably safer to say it will be completed in early 1999, but it's really dependent on the weather situation," Mahan said.
Speculation about possible tenants for the development has focused on large discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot, but Mahan said no tenants have been named.
"By at least the middle of next year, we will be making statements about who the tenants will be," he said.
To the disappointment of Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the area at the base of the Santa Susana Mountains, the original plans for the shopping center underwent drastic revision. Three or four upscale department stores and about 1.4 million square feet in retail space were deleted from the original plans.
"I am disappointed that the economy has changed and that's the reason why plans change," Bernson said.
Still, Bernson conceded that "it should be a very nice shopping center."
Originally in 1990 the project was envisioned as a $2-billion endeavor that would rival Century City.
Since then, in the wake of the slumping real estate market in the early part of this decade, the project was reduced by one-half, from 6 million to 3 million square feet of commercial space.
Construction is expected to take place in several phases over the next 20 years.