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F.V. residents oppose development

Proposed mixed-use projects that involves hotel, homes and retail near City Hall rankles some neighbors concerned about traffic.

February 22, 2012|By Michael Miller

A proposal to build a four-story hotel, 88 residential units and retail space next to Fountain Valley City Hall has roused opposition from some neighbors who call the project a potential traffic and safety hazard.

The Fountain Valley Civic Center Specific Plan, submitted by the Olson Co. and Ayres Hotels, seeks to revitalize an 8.62-acre parcel that includes an abandoned Safeco Insurance outlet, a police storage facility and a building leased to Coastline Community College.

Don Ayres, a principal for the company, said the project would bring tax revenue and jobs to the city and provide lodgings to complement expanding businesses, such as the new Hyundai Motor America Inc. headquarters.

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Some neighbors have circulated fliers urging residents to take a stance against the proposal. A Feb. 8 Planning Commission meeting drew a packed room of residents, with about a dozen speakers opposing the project.

Dennis Antenucci, who lives near the project area and recently distributed a letter to neighbors, told the Independent that the development would lead to traffic congestion, lack of on-street parking and crime resulting from a hotel close to the freeway.

"This has been a really quiet neighborhood," Antenucci said. "That's why everybody moved here."

Fellow resident Tom Sloss said he was concerned less with traffic on the main thoroughfares than with drivers cutting through and parking in his neighborhood. A smaller-scale project wouldn't have a major impact, he said, but 88 units would be overkill.

"This is Fountain Valley," Sloss said, then citing the city slogan. "We're called 'A Nice Place to Live.' And a lot of us think we won't be as nice a place to live with 88 families crammed into a tiny corner."

The Planning Commission, which continued its public hearing from Feb. 8, was scheduled to revisit the matter at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. If the commission approves the project, it will head to the City Council for a final vote March 6.

In addition to the residential units and 127-room hotel, the project would feature 2,300 square feet of retail space that may be converted to storage space for the Police Department in the future. Existing structures on the property would be demolished.

The Olson Co., which has built housing communities in Fountain Valley and elsewhere, approached Ayres Hotels a year ago about partnering.

The area's closeness to the freeway would make it an ideal spot for the hotel and residences, Olson Senior Vice President John Reekstin said.

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