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Anaheim OKs Plans for Residential High-Rises Near Angel Stadium

Meanwhile, Orange council members weigh development of the eastern canyons.

October 26, 2005|Dave McKibben and Daniel Yi | Times Staff Writers

The Anaheim City Council unanimously gave the go-ahead Tuesday to plans for A-Town, the centerpiece of the largest proposed urban revitalization in Orange County with 11 residential high-rises near Angel Stadium.

At the same time, Orange council members continued deliberating over one of the county's last major residential developments, in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Anaheim, with or without a proposed National Football League team, hopes to make the 41-acre urban village the anchor of a downtown district known as the Platinum Triangle. The area already houses Angel Stadium, Arrowhead Pond and the Grove of Anaheim, a concert hall.

"This project is a real jewel," Councilman Bob Hernandez said. "It will be an interesting and delightful place to live and a tremendous economic engine."

Plans call for more than 9,000 residential units, 7 million square feet of office space, restaurants and shops to replace an aging industrial area between the Santa Ana Freeway and the Santa Ana River.

The Platinum Triangle is a much grander variation of Sportstown, a 1996 project that was supposed to link Angel Stadium with the Arrowhead Pond but was scrapped when developers ran out of money.

The Triangle concept was given a boost a year ago when the NFL announced it was considering the area for a new football stadium.

The NFL is weighing stadium plans for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Anaheim. City officials had threatened to pull out of the NFL sweepstakes and sell the 40 acres to developers if significant progress had not been made toward a deal. But Anaheim spokesman John Nicoletti said Tuesday that the city had backed off that threat.

"We feel the deal has moved considerably forward in the last couple of weeks," Nicoletti said. "The City Council is still interested in continuing to negotiate with the NFL."

Plans for A-Town, a Lennar Corp. project, include two public parks and 11 residential towers as high as 38 stories. The council already had approved eight of 12 projects in the area around the sports complexes.

The A-Town proposal was put on hold two weeks ago when council members Lorri Galloway and Richard Chavez questioned whether the city was moving too fast without serious discussions about traffic and public safety.

In Orange, the city for months has been weighing development plans for 6,800 acres of canyons in the Santa Ana Mountains, one of the last tracts of undeveloped land in the county.

The decision was postponed twice after hundreds of people showed up at council meetings to speak for and against the development.

Proponents say the plans by the Irvine Co. strike a balance between open space and the county's need for housing. The plans include 4,300 acres of wilderness.

Opponents say the nearly 4,000 homes planned on the remainder would choke the roads with traffic and kill the bucolic character of the canyons.

Eastern Orange represents one of the last battlegrounds in the clash between conservation and development interests as the county winds down its decades-long transformation from citrus groves and cattle ranches to cul-de-sacs and shopping malls.

The Irvine Co.'s proposals encompass a large swath of land that stretches from the eastern border of Orange to Silverado Canyon.

The city plans to annex the unincorporated area and has planning jurisdiction over it.

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