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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Shaping Oxnard's Future

September 17, 2000|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Projects of real estate developer Dave O. White and his partners could change the face of Oxnard over the next two decades. The proposed RiverPark, River Ridge West and the Ormond Beach developments account for more than 2,400 acres, nearly two-thirds of all the land that can be developed within Oxnard's urban boundaries, and about one-sixth of the developable acres in Ventura County.

1. RiverPark

PRESENT

This 700-acre site just north of the Ventura Freeway at the Santa Clara River is in the city of Oxnard and unincorporated El Rio. About 225 acres, mostly strawberry fields, lie within the city and were part of the now-defunct Town Center project a decade ago. The northern 350 acres are part of the Southern Pacific Milling Co. gravel mining operation and 80 acres are used by Ventura County as a maintenance yard or water runoff basin.

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PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT

Dave White's Oxnard-based development company and a Los Angeles-based company headed by Paul Keller have formed RiverPark Development, LLC. The new company hopes to build a new upscale community with 3,000 dwellings centered around village greens, a Town Square fashioned after the city of Sonoma's, a movie theater and restaurants, a first-class hotel and convention center, several office buildings, a school and sport fields, and a food-and-wine exposition. It would include 2.5 million square feet of commercial space.

Backers say construction of roads and utilities could begin in 2002, about the same time as a major new intersection is started at the junction of the Ventura Freeway and the Pacific Coast Highway.

Buildout is projected for 20 years.

Financial backing is by Oak Tree Capital Management, a Los Angeles company that oversees $12 billion in investments, mostly from pension funds.

2. River Ridge West

PRESENT

This 330-acre site north of Oxnard High School on Gonzales Road is immediately west of the existing River Ridge housing and golf course development. It is comprised of a 246-acre quadrant of row crops and citrus orchards topped by an 84-acre rubbish landfill sealed with clay and covered with grass and trees.

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PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT

Developers Dave White, the Swift Family Trust and the Mormon Church plan a project consisting of 416 homes priced at $400,000 to $600,000, two churches, an elementary school and a second municipal golf course. The acreage was annexed to the city in January.

The City Council needs only to approve a final contract with developers, sign a pending deal with the county rubbish district and approve a plan by golf course architects before construction bonds are sold.

Construction could begin by next spring with completion of a city-owned golf course by mid-2003. Homes would be sold over the next five years.

3. Ormond Beach

PRESENT

This 1,400-acre development area in south Oxnard is now mostly farmland but includes more than one mile of beach, salt flats that were once natural wetlands and grasslands and a large electricity power plant. Its shallow freshwater lagoon and saltwater marshes are habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered birds. It is bordered by industry and is the county's largest remaining undeveloped stretch of coastline.

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PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT

Although in its earliest stages, this plan by developers Dave White, Paul Keller and other partners would center around restoration of hundreds of acres of wetlands and grasslands and construction of a private, 4,000-student university. No construction would occur in the coastal zone. Existing industry would be buffered by farmland and new light industry. The university, at Hueneme and Arnold roads, would include student housing. Up to 1,500 dwellings, mostly single family homes, would be built around the university and north of Hueneme Road.

The California Coastal Conservancy is buying 600 acres surrounding the power plant. The city of Oxnard and the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles own about 300 acres. Talks among all parties are in their early stages. But city officials gave the White-Keller group the exclusive right to design a project for the city acreage early this year.

At earliest, construction would occur in four years.

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