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Orange County

Plan for 37-Story Office Clears Another Hurdle

June 16, 2004|Daniel Yi | Times Staff Writer

A proposed 37-story office tower that would be Orange County's tallest building and change the character of downtown Santa Ana has again won approval from the city's Planning Commission.

The panel reconsidered the plan, which it endorsed in February, after a city councilman requested assurances that the $86-million project would attract enough tenants.

On Monday, the commission voted 6 to 1 to approve a condition that construction begin only after the developer leases half of the building, which could house as many as 2,000 workers.

Debate over the glass-encased office tower, called One Broadway Plaza, underscores Orange County's growing urbanization at the expense of traffic and the end of suburban lifestyles.

Santa Ana residents opposed to the project are raising funds to wage a legal battle or start a ballot initiative to block it.

"It changes what Santa Ana is," said Barry Jensen, a resident of nearby French Park, a quiet neighborhood of stately homes and generous frontyards. "Santa Ana, although sizable, still has a quaint and homey downtown."

Others complain that traffic around the building, at Broadway and 10th Street, would endanger students attending neighboring Orange County High School of the Arts and El Sol Science and Arts Academy, an elementary school.

"You will have kids crawling out of cars and darting around traffic," said Kim Gerda, whose son is a freshman at the arts high school. "We want all the safety issues to be resolved before the project is approved."

The development, proposed six years ago, is scheduled to be considered again by the City Council on July 6.

Developer Mike Harrah said his company, Caribou Industries, has agreed to spend $12.7 million to address traffic problems, including installing additional traffic lights.

Harrah said he will have no problem meeting the 50% lease requirement before construction starts.

That requirement was sought by Councilman Mike Garcia, who feared the building might appear blighted if it's not occupied.

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