Developments in SCV make progress amid pandemic

Rendering of Williams Ranch, a nearly 500-home development in Castaic, north of Highway 126. Courtesy

By Emily Alvarenga and Tammy Murga

Signal Staff Writers

The coronavirus pandemic has upended many business sectors and has halted many everyday activities over the past months, but construction has steadily continued across a handful of projects across the Santa Clarita Valley, including the Vista Canyon on the East side, Williams Ranch in the West and the Canyon Country Community Center. 

Vista Canyon train station gets green light

Construction of Vista Canyon, the car-optional community on the East side of the Santa Clarita Valley, has been underway for a while now, but Santa Clarita City Council members greenlighted another development milestone at their July 14 meeting.

The council awarded a construction contract to Los Angeles-based Icon West for $23.7 million to build the Vista Canyon Multi-Modal Center, otherwise known as the community’s train station. 

The station, as well as the bus transfer station, which broke ground in late January, were designed to “serve as a central core for commuter rail, local and commuter buses, bicycles and pedestrians for the surrounding communities,” according to a city agenda report. 

The station will serve Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line, which runs between the L.A. Union Station and Lancaster. An agreement with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority will provide for the installation of features such as train signal, signal houses, communication lines and a control system, per city officials. 

Cameron Smyth, Mayor for the City of Santa Clarita, Laurene Weste Council Member, Marsha McLean, Council Member, Aja Najarian Metro Board Director, Jim Backer JBS Development President, Stephanie English, Senior Field Supervisor with the Los Angeles County, Bob Kellar Council Member, (left to right) heave fresh soil with gold shovels commemoration the groundbreaking for the Vista Canyon Bus Transfer Station that is expected to serve the new Vista Canyon Development currently in construction phase, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

The train station will consist of a grade-separated pedestrian crossing to a center track platform, a new railroad bridge, sound walls, approximately one mile of new railroad track parallel to the existing track and multiple amenities ranging from canopies, lighting, benches, landscaping and a security system. The project is also expected to include a plaque honoring the Chinese railroad workers who worked on the Southern Pacific Railroad. 

The transportation hub, consisting of the train and bus transfer stations, “will expand the city’s mobility network into this part of the region, making Santa Clarita one of Southern California’s most well-connected, transit-friendly communities,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said previously. “The Vista Canyon development’s ideal location makes it easy to get around the Santa Clarita Valley and other destinations by bike, rail or bus, and soon residents will be able to travel in and out of Santa Clarita with ease.”

Canyon Country Community Center enters final phase

Council members also approved the final phase of the longtime-coming Canyon Country Community Center. Tasked with the construction of this step is Oxnard-based Toro Enterprises, Inc. with an approved contract of $3.89 million. 

The City Council first approved the master plan of the community center in June 2016, indicating that the 8-acre site, on Flying Tiger Drive at Sierra Highway. The 25,000-square-foot center now enters the third and final step toward completion. 

Phase three provides for off-site improvements such as a right-turn lane on westbound Soledad Canyon Road, the widening of northbound Sierra Highway along the project frontage, the widening of Solamint Road near Dolan Way, and constructing bulb-outs at Solamint Road and Dolan Way. This step also involves adding landscaped medians on Sierra Highway between Soledad Canyon Road and Dolan Way. 

Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County officials celebrate the start of construction on the Canyon Country Community Center during a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, March 15, 2019. Courtesy of the city of Santa Clarita

This third phase will be constructed simultaneously with the second phase, which is construction of the community center facility and other features. 

“Construction is ongoing and includes the community center building, parking lots, walkways, courtyards and plazas, play area, outdoor basketball court, landscaping, and the Gateway Plaza at the corner of Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road,” read the city agenda report. 

Completion is expected by the summer of 2021, according to city officials. 

Williams Ranch grading underway 

Grading and site improvements are underway on a new master-planned community in Castaic, according to joint venturers Williams Homes and IHP Capital Partners.

Williams Ranch is set to include 497 homes, ranging from 1,700 to more than 4,000 square feet on large lots, many of which offer long-distance territorial or open space views. 

“The big rancher is back at Williams Ranch,” Lance Williams, chairman and CEO of Williams Homes, said in a prepared statement. “We founded the company 23 years ago in the Santa Clarita Valley, building big, beautiful single-story ranch style homes, and Williams Ranch will bring that back in a huge way to the Santa Clarita Valley. There will be nothing that comes even close to offering all we have in store for Williams Ranch, and we are very excited to bring this community to life in the Santa Clarita Valley, where we call home.”

Home sites start at a minimum of 7,000 square feet, giving the majority of homes room for spacious side and rear yards. 

Williams Ranch amenities are expected to include a private recreation center with clubhouse, pool, wine pavilion, outdoor kitchen and entertainment amphitheater, while the community itself is set to feature large citrus orchards, vineyards, a 5-acre L.A. County park and nearly 5 miles of walking trails winding throughout approximately 430 acres.  

The Castaic community is located just west of Interstate 5 and north of Highway 126, directly adjacent to the Valencia Commerce Center and its neighbors, the Hasley Hills neighborhood. 

“The decision to use Lance’s name, calling it Williams Ranch, is really a culmination of our last two decades of growth, and really for us, signals us transitioning to the next step up in size of home developer,” said Dan Faina, division president for Williams Homes. “So, it’s really getting the full force and attention of our entire organization, and there is an immense amount of care and effort going into making sure this is truly special. 

“No one will have anything like it,” he added, “and it really means the world to our entire company here.”

The community is expected to open in late 2021. 

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