LH Council approves new city hall
By Brianna Flores
La Habra Journal
With a described focus on future economic developments of the city, the La Habra city council took the next step in what will relocate and redesign the current city hall and convert the existing space into a residential area.
The council unanimously approved the purchase of the parcel of land on the southeast corner of La Habra Boulevard and Euclid Street and the development of a new civic center. It also approved the rezoning of the current civic center property to allow for residential development and sale of the city land.
The city hall relocation and redesign, also referred to as the Civic Center Project, is being completed in phases. On Monday night, members of the council voted to approve Phase 2 and continue on to Phase 3.
In approving Phase 2, an additional $254,000 for construction document preparation, an additional $60,512 and an amendment to a project manager contract up to $35,000 were all approved.
Andrew Ho, director of economic development, outlined the cost and financing options for the project. According to Ho, redesigning and relocating city hall and converting it into a Civic Center would cost an estimated $19 million. The price includes purchasing the land and the cost of renovations.
Ho presented three possible financing options for the project, including internal borrowing from general fund reserves, utility authority and traditional lease financing.
City Manager Jim Sadro said that his strong financial background helped him to recommend approving Phase 2.
“This is the kind of project that doesn’t come along very often. In fact, it’s a unique opportunity being right across the street in what’s essentially current office buildings that can be reconfigured into a Civic Center complex, and us to do an exchange with a residential builder to come and build homes on this side of the street,” Sadro said.
He also said that La Habra has a very strong economy base and establishing a Civic Center and building a new residential area at the core of the city would stimulate economic growth.
“We’re not a bank. We’re not an organization where you are given a bonus for saving all your money for a rainy day that may never come. You have to, at times, take risks to invest in any project that you think has a broader, overall significance to your community, to your infrastructures, to your facilities,” Sadro said.
Mark Sturdevant, president of the chamber of commerce, said he was inspired by the information presented.
“I’m always excited about progress in the community. To see things move, to see it evolve into something that it can be and should be. Sometimes I get concerned that we may move too fast in a direction with half the consideration because it’s fun and exciting – but I don’t see that here in this project. I see planning, research, a lot of consideration to the community, traffic studies and the types of buildings we’re proposing here. This is what you do in order to make an informed decision,” Sturdevant said.
Sturdevant wants to see the downtown area of La Habra polished and revitalized so that it can be a place where residents can bring their friends and relatives. In addition, he said that a new city hall would be beneficial in attracting new business prospects.
Joe Oftelie, director of development for City Ventures, the developer that that will be building the homes on the site of the current city hall, explained the costs and logistics for the 71 residential homes.
City Ventures has built homes in many Orange County cities including Fullerton, Brea, and Yorba Linda. The company prides itself on being green and economically friendly. The new homes would have all-electric appliances, solar panels and drought-tolerant plants.
Beamish expressed concern about sufficient parking availability for tenants.
Oftelie told Beamish that the parking spaces are adequate and that tenants are aware of parking availability before they commit to a home.
Shaw was concerned that the homes adjacent to the police department would experience an overwhelming amount of noise from police and fire truck sirens.
Oftelie assured Shaw that noise levels were taken into consideration when designing the infrastructure and that sound levels shouldn’t increase. Plus, the addition of a new wall structure around the police department will help reduce possible sound and add privacy.
If approved, renovations are expected to take a maximum 12 months to complete.