Planners OK Needham Ranch building 6

Construction continues at Needham Ranch in Newhall as viewed from Sierra Highway on Wednesday. The Santa Clarita Planning Commission on Tuesday approved the construction of building 6, a more than 97,000-square-foot industrial structure.

Needham Ranch has not shied away from visibility to those passing through Highway 14 near Sierra Highway since the start of construction. And it’s about to grow in size after the Santa Clarita Planning Commission gave the green light Tuesday for the development of phase one’s penultimate building.

In a unanimous vote, commissioners approved the construction of building 6, including a conditional use permit allowing for height exceeding 35 feet.

The building will reach no more than 47 feet tall, something some members of the public have opposed, according to David Peterson, an associate planner for the city of Santa Clarita.

“The response to that: The development agreement allows heights to go to 38 and a half feet,” he said to commissioners during a presentation of the development. “You can go taller than that with a conditional use permit.”

Building 6 will consist of a 97,000-square-foot-plus industrial structure, which includes about 7,750 square feet of office space and 89,000-plus square feet of warehouse space. The building will include 12 loading docks and 121 onsite parking spaces, five of which are proposed as electric vehicle charging stations.

According to a project description shared by Peterson, a section of the parking lot will be divided by a security fence and two 8-foot gates. Landscaping and a solid waste enclosure are also in the development plans.

This project is just part of the larger picture that forms the 132-net-acre industrial development, to be built in three phases, said Patrick Leclair, senior planner for the city. Although detailed plans for phases two and three are unknown, he said, phase one is well underway.

“You can see things coming along nicely,” Peterson said of the overall work.

Phase one is comprised of an estimated 900,000-square-foot, seven-building, Class A park. State-of-the-art features will include 30- to 36-foot interior clear heights, loading docks with large truck courts and yard areas, as well as “attractive architectural design featuring extensive use of glass,” according to developers Trammell Crow Co.

So far, buildings 1 and 2 have already gone vertical. Building 3 is undergoing foundation work and pads for buildings 4 and 5 are now in place, said Peterson.

John Balestra, senior vice president with Trammell Crow’s Los Angeles Business Unit, said Wednesday, “We now have approval for buildings 4 through 6, which together represent our Phase 1 B, and are now finalizing our contract to commence development and construction of the next three buildings, which should be starting in perhaps 45 days.”

Construction has slowed down, he added, as a result of a very wet winter. “For every day that rains, rain has slowed us for about three days. No one can work, and we have had to let things dry up and then clean up the mess,” he said.

In late November, Balestra and his team were joined by city officials to celebrate the initial raising of the walls for phase 1.

Besides city officials, several business experts have voiced the benefits Needham Ranch will bring to the area, including increasing employment opportunities and providing high-quality new industrial buildings with close proximity to Los Angeles.

Supporters of the development include Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. She said, “We’re seeing a lot of new requirements from users for increased height in the industrial market, changes in sort of what’s happening in the economy and what they’re looking for in terms of optimizing their space and new technology allowing that to be possible.”

On Wednesday, the SCV Chamber of Commerce also showed its support. Via a prepared statement, Chamber Executive Director John Musella said the chamber “is in full support of Needham Ranch. Needham Ranch will generate local job opportunities for Santa Clarita residents, at an ideal location because of its proximity to both Interstate 5 and State Route 14.”

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