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Orange County

Santa Ana Council Affirms Its OK of 37-Story Building

One Broadway Plaza, which would be the county's tallest, is opposed by some who threaten to sue or put the project on the ballot.

August 03, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

The Santa Ana City Council on Monday affirmed its earlier approval of what's envisioned as Orange County's tallest building, despite threats by some critics of the project to file a lawsuit and referendum opposing it.

"Los Angeles may be able to afford this kind of screw-up, but Santa Ana can't," John Barneich, a member of Citizens for Responsible Planning, said of One Broadway Plaza, the proposed 37-story glass office tower to be built in the 1100 block of Broadway. "If this thing goes through," he said, "there will be a referendum to take the issue to voters and a lawsuit to challenge the inadequate and biased [environmental review]. We will have enough signatures within 30 days."

Added Ben Gabriel, another member of the group: "We are asking that you not gamble with our neighborhoods. We like the way Santa Ana is."

With two of its members abstaining because of the appearance of a conflict of interest, the council voted to approve various ordinances to make the project happen. It was the second time the council had formally considered the proposed high-rise, which was initially approved July 19. "We've had two public hearings," Councilwoman Lisa Bist said, "and heard lots of input."

Developer Michael Harrah said groundbreaking is at least six to eight months away as his company begins accepting bids on about $12.7 million worth of traffic mitigation measures required by the city.

"We are working on doing all the mitigation," Harrah, who is president of Caribou Industries Inc., said in an interview before Monday's meeting. "Mostly it will be in the form of new traffic signals and right-turn lanes [aimed at] slowing traffic through the [surrounding] neighborhoods."

Completion of the project, he said, would bring an estimated 1,600 more visitors -- mostly people employed in the building -- into the neighborhood each day, but "the positive outweighs the negative," he said. "Their hours will be staggered. It will increase property values by 30% to 40%, and the tax base will be enormous."

There seemed to be some support for those arguments among Monday's speakers. "I believe this is a defining moment for the city," said Federico Sayre, a local attorney. "I want the city to grow."

Harrah said he hadn't begun recruiting tenants -- half of whom must sign on before a building permit can be issued -- but expressed confidence in the process.

"I believe it's time for Santa Ana to be reborn," he said.

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