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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Fallow Future for Camarillo Farmland Project?

After nearly 10 years of hearings and drama, a development proposal for nearly 900 acres of Camarillo farmland looks to be on its last legs – at least in its current form. The five property owners wanted to convert the huge tract into a residential and commercial complex called Conejo Creek. But the project, which would have required a zoning change, was removed from the general plan this month by a unanimous vote of the Camarillo City Council. “There were some major problems with the project. There were traffic issues, noise issues and issues with water,” said Mayor Kevin Kildee. “The Council felt the project was just too big. And with all those issues, we felt many, if not all, could not be mitigated.” Conejo Creek would have included up to 2,500 residential units and nearly 1.8 million square feet of non-residential space, which could have been used for mixed-use projects, retail or industrial. In addition, there were 45 acres of parkland and about 215 acres of lakes and creeks, according to its draft environmental impact report. The majority of the land has been commercial farmed for more than 50 years with crops ranging from citrus to avocados. Some of the land is still in agricultural use today. But the proposal may not be gone for good. Development Planning Services Inc., a Camarillo consulting firm representing and working on behalf of the land owners, intends to complete its environmental impact report, despite the Council’s decision to kill the project. That suggests it eventually may come back with a smaller proposal. The firm did not return calls for comment. Kildee acknowledged that Conejo Creek may return in a scaled back form, but that residents would still likely be just as concerned. The packed Council chambers broke out in applause after the unanimous vote axed the project. “The public is very involved in what our city looks like,” he said. “We’ve tried to plan our growth. Any development gets heavily scrutinized.” Sherman Oaks Rehab An old retail strip in Sherman Oaks is going to get a makeover. Earlier this summer, Festival Cos. of Los Angeles picked up a 32,000-square-foot shopping center at 4550 Van Nuys Blvd. The center has a number of small tenants, including a FedEx Office copy store and Solley’s, a Jewish deli that’s been there for decades. Festival plans a makeover for the center, built in the late 1950s. “There are several million dollars earmarked to renovate and reposition the property. The intention is to really make it the center that it should be,” said Seth Grossman, managing director at the Carlsbad office of Meridian Capital Group LLC, which arranged a $13.5 million loan for Festival from New York lender ARC Realty Finance Trust Inc. Grossman would not state the purchase price or the cost of the renovation, but that it is a “big number.” Upgrades will include aesthetic as well as structural work, including new roofing, plumbing, signage and more. “It’s the full deal,” he said. One attraction of the center is its location. It is flanked on one side by a new Best Buy concept store, and on the other by a well-trafficked Gelson’s market. Grossman said many of the current tenants will remain in the center, though he wouldn’t be specific. “We know the owner wants to keep some tenants, but the idea is to slowly reposition it. Some will renew and some new national tenants will come in too,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity. There is a lot of potential with this center.” Festival did not return calls or emails seeking comment. ‘Last Space’ Enterprise Rent-A-Car will move into a nearly 8-acre space in Sylmar next month. The company signed a 10-year lease for a lot at 12087 Lopez Canyon, which includes about 30,000 square feet of buildings. The lease is valued at about $7.25 million. Brent Weirick, an executive vice president at the Encino office of Colliers International, represented the landlord entities, SE Lopez I LLC and Sky Terrace LLC. “This is the last space like this in the Valley,” he said. “It’s extremely desirable.” Indeed, there aren’t a lot of large vacant lots in the region with just enough structure to conduct business operations for a rental car dealership, which Weirick said prompted the deal to move quickly. “Enterprise had a handshake on the site within two weeks. It was a very quick deal,” he added. The site has a bit of history in the Valley, serving as home to a trucking company, DirecTV and, for many years, landscape giant ValleyCrest Landscape. Staff Reporter Elliot Golan can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or egolan@sfvbj.com

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