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SAN PEDRO, CA
BEVERLY HILLS, CA
Commercial Real Estate Direct Staff Report
July 2009 (pdf)
Bear Creek Airport
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Letter spells out plans for resort complex
By: LAURA MITCHELL - Staff Writer
MURRIETA - A developer is proposing to build hundreds of apartments as part of a 60-acre resort complex west of Hayes Avenue at the site of the former Bear Creek Airfield, planning documents show.
Developer Raffi Cohen with Galaxy Commercial Holdings in Beverly Hills filed an application with the city to build a golf course resort on the parcel in July 2003. The property is currently zoned as open space. But a letter last month from local developer consultant and Galaxy representative Larry Markham requests changing the open-space zoning to multifamily zoning so the developer can build an apartment resort complex.
Markham's request will be considered in the next month or two by the General Plan Advisory Committee, a committee of residents charged with updating the city's general plan, its main growth-planning document.
But some residents are already saying they want to preserve the land as open space.
"The open space that is there now is so beautiful. ... It would be a shame to stick (hundreds of) apartments there," west-side resident Petra Schafer said Monday.
The west side of the city is in need of parks and open space, not more apartments, Schafer said.
Schafer was one of a group of residents that lobbied the city for almost a year to find a solution to traffic congestion around Murrieta Valley High School and Thompson Middle School, both on Nighthawk Way west of Washington Avenue.
The southeast corner of the proposed resort's property at Hayes and Nighthawk was recently studied by the city as part of a plan to resolve traffic congestion around the schools.
Last month, the City Council agreed to a package of street improvements around the schools to improve traffic.
If the zoning change is approved, the developer may be allowed to build up to 18 apartments an acre. Markham's letter did not state how many apartments the developer wants to build at the site.
He said Monday that he did not immediately recall how many units the developer was planning. But a rough site plan dated April 2004 shows the project includes hundreds of apartment units.
The apartment resort would include an open-space corridor and recreational trails across Murrieta and Bear creeks, as well as restaurants, meeting rooms and tennis courts, according to planning documents.
Right now, Markham said, Murrieta doesn't have meeting rooms that would accommodate a convention or similar gathering, which is what the developer is hoping to bring to the city.
The airfield, which was closed in September 2002, was designated as open space, which eliminated any economic use of the land, Markham's letter states.
"It (the airfield) I think was mistakenly zoned as open space" when the city's main growth document, its general plan, was last updated in 1999, he said.
Peter McCrohan, a planning commissioner and member of the General Plan Advisory Committee at the time, said Monday that he recalls neighbors supporting the idea of turning the airfield into open space, although he does not remember how many people asked for the change.
The city's general plan is being updated again this year.
Contact staff writer Laura Mitchell at (909) 676-4315, Ext. 2621, or firstname.lastname@example.org.