As 2020 approaches its end, a number of Santa Clarita Valley projects are moving from the proposal to the approval and construction stages.
The COVID-19 pandemic has paused or slowed down several sectors, but planning and construction have stayed relatively active over the past year. Among several dozen projects the city is working on with developers, three major proposals have received the OK from the city:
The Master’s University, originally from downtown Los Angeles, TMU stretches over 82 acres in the community of Placerita Canyon, located northeast of downtown Newhall.
After a 2009 decision by the Santa Clarita City Council, the campus will expand as indicated in the institution’s master plan project, which will ultimately subdivide the site, located at 21726 Placerita Canyon Road.
The latest advancement to the project came in February, just before the pandemic, when the Planning Commission unanimously approved a two-year time extension for a proposed subdivision of the property. The expiration date is Jan. 13, 2022.
The subdivision site would section the property to create multiple lots, including several college campus lots, a residential lot for 42 single-family condominium units, open space lots, homeowners’ association lots, a private street lot and a water quality basin lot, according to a city staff report.
The master plan project would also include incremental development of the campus by up to 240,000 square feet of new and expanded buildings, extensions of Dockweiler Drive and Deputy Jake Drive and the dedication of 21 acres of open space to the city. These components, including the Dockweiler Drive extension, remain in the review stages, according to city planning officials.
“This is a procedural time extension for a tentative tract map to implement, what we call, ‘the next phase’ or ‘the major phase’ of the campus expansion,” Dennis Hardgrave, TMU’s land planning consultant, said in February.
Vertical construction can’t commence until hillside grading occurs, according to James Chow, a city senior planner.
“According to the timeline, (developers) are actively working on refining their grading plan, and I wouldn’t expect the hilltop to take a couple of years, considering the complexity here and the cost associated with grading and the infrastructure for a new roadway,” he said. “Mainly because of the shared amount of work for grading, that’s been the cause of the delay.”
Come October, however, there were no plans to kickstart the expansion, according to Hardgrave.
“As of now, there is not a scheduled start of construction date for the subdivision,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has not affected the developmental aspects of the project, said Chow. Currently, the university has focused on its hybrid approach in its return to learning this fall semester.
Sand Canyon Plaza
The Sand Canyon Plaza could return before the Planning Commission next year after its approval by the City Council in September 2017, according to city planning officials.
The project, managed by Tom Clark, is Canyon Country’s newest, mixed-use community — described as “resort-style living — that is set to include 580 residential units, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and an 85,000 square-foot assisted living facility with up to 140 beds.
On 87 acres, the site is located on the northeast corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads.
“The applicant (Sand Canyon Plaza LLC) is looking to make revisions at the moment, and we’re not sure what those revisions will ultimately be but we will be ready to check those out when they become available,” said Patrick LeClair, a city senior planner.
Developers were unavailable for comment, but have previously expressed that they’ve met with more than 600 community members, including from the Sand Canyon Homeowners Association, the Canyon Country Advisory Committee and nearby residential communities, to receive feedback, which ranged from support of the project to concerns over possible increased traffic and noise in the area.
“We endorsed, and agree with all of them,” said Clark in a previous interview.
Developers may need a time extension on the project, according to LeClair.
“They (the developers) will likely be meeting with the Planning Commission in early next year to extend approval of the project and they will likely need a time extension, most likely,” he said.
Another project already approved that hasn’t yet made construction advances is the five-story Oliver Hotel on McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard.
The project consists of a 102,000-square-foot, 134-room building on the site of the old Greens miniature golf course and includes a free-standing restaurant.
The approval came in 2016, eight years after another developer proposed a seven-story, 200-room hotel that was approved by the Planning Commission in 2009, but appealed by the City Council. The Oliver Hotel’s original design had to undergo design changes, as the commissioner deemed its original aesthetic too “plain,” according to Tim Burkhart, who was the vice chair of the commission at the time.
Though some grading has occurred, no construction has taken place, according to David Peterson, associate planner with the city’s planning division.
“The developer (Hunter Oliver) has not indicated yet when construction will take place,” he added.