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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Oxnard

City to Seek Loan for Theater Project

May 12, 2000|STACY BROWN

Hoping that a theater complex will attract scores of patrons and serve as the focal point of a revitalized downtown, the City Council has voted unanimously to ask the federal government to fund a $12.1-million loan to help pay for construction of the new project.

It will also include a $3-million multilevel parking structure.

Officials have targeted the early part of 2001 for the theater's opening.

Opponents, who say the project is a waste of time and money, reacted angrily to the council's decision to seek a loan that would become the city's responsibility if the developer defaults.

"This is irresponsible," said Martin Jones, South Oxnard Neighborhood Council chairman.

Roger Pariseau, chairman of the Fremont North Neighborhood Council, said many residents in his area oppose the theater because they don't see it as a viable project.

City Council members have expressed strong disagreement with those who do not view the project as viable.

"If you build it, they will come," Councilman Dean Maulhardt said.

City Manager Ed Sotelo is poised to submit an application for an $11-million low-interest loan from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sotelo said a $1.1-million federal grant will be used to repay the first year's interest, allowing time for the project to be built and for the developer to begin making money.

Nancy Davidson, city redevelopment project manager, said the development firm will put $2 million of its own money into the project. She said for the city to be responsible for repayment of the loan, the developer and theater operator would have to default.

The theater itself, expected to cost between $8.5 million and $9.5 million, would include 10,000 square feet of commercial space, officials said.

Maulhardt said the city will soon decide on a developer.

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