City seeks balance in Town Center plan 

A flier from the city of Santa Clarita's outreach effort in April 2023, when officials were looking for input on the Town Center Specific Plan, an area that includes Valencia Town Center. Courtesy city of Santa Clarita
The Town Center Specific Plan covers an area that includes Valencia Town Center. Courtesy city of Santa Clarita

Months of planning and outreach led to a set of guidelines the city of Santa Clarita created for one of its most significant economic drivers: the Valencia mall. 

Santa Clarita began working on the vision for the future of the previously named Westfield Valencia Town Center months before it knew who would own the property. 

Centennial, a Dallas-based developer, dropped Westfield from the title after its purchase, but otherwise hasn’t said much yet about its plans.  

Centennial has “said all the right things,” according to Jason Crawford, the city’s director of economic development, in terms of “being on the same page with the city” about the future of the property. 

Representatives for Centennial did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. 

Crawford said both sides want to see a balanced mix of office, residential, retail and entertainment space within the property, but added that Centennial has yet to give any indication of specifics or a timeline. 

The Town Center Specific Plan property is massive and figures key to the city’s plans for that area. As such a large collection of retailers, the mall was a massive driver of sales tax revenue, which is the city’s largest source of income — not to mention the 111-acre plot sits across the street from Santa Clarita City Hall. 

Crawford said there were several reasons why the city decided to create the plan, not the least of which was initial inquiries from the property’s previous owners about the land’s potential real estate density before the sale. The area’s Commercial Regional zoning designation would allow for up to 50 units per acre throughout the property.  

Carl Tash, chief investment officer for Centennial, highlighted the company’s mixed-used focus during a September interview shortly after the close of escrow was announced on the nearly $200 million deal with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. 

“Though it’s been very retail-focused, particularly with everything that Westfield added to the property, we now want to think about … ‘How do we make this really fit with the community much better than it had historically,’” Tash said in September. “It shouldn’t be an island of shopping. It should really be connecting to the community.”  

Crawford said planning has figured key into the city’s success in the past, and remains especially more so in the future with local control issues looming large due to the state’s housing crisis. 

“I think the community has seen the success of the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan,” Crawford said. He said revitalization plans helped turn that part of town into a thriving mix of investments, including the residential, retail, food and entertainment blend Crawford said the city wants to see with the Town Center Specific Plan. 

“Also, it was a little bit defensively,” he added, “in that we know that the state is removing local control and pushing for more residential units to be built. And this is an area that allows for residential units to be built. But we want whatever gets built there to be balanced, so that it is not just new residential units.”  

“The proposed TCSP is a long-range land-use plan that establishes the city’s vision for the TCSP area as a regional destination incorporating a balanced mix of uses,” according to the document prepared by planner Dave Peterson. “The city’s goals for the TCSP are to create a balance of residential, commercial, dining and entertainment uses; facilitate the creation of great placemaking; create a flexible framework for future development; and create a practical and buildable plan.”  

The city wants its new hub to balance its retail, residential and recreational space with bike- and pedestrian-friendly access, according to the plan. 

Prior to the announcement of the property sale, the city began outreach in April for what people would like to see there. City officials put together a video to explain the process in May. 

The city on Dec. 6 issued its notice of preparation for the plan, a scoping meeting was held Dec. 13, and the comment period for it ended Jan. 8. 

The city intends to bring the Town Center Specific Plan to the Planning Commission in April. 

Residents won’t find out much more detail about the future, however, until Centennial announces its plans later this year. 

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