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Developer to restore historic Anaheim packing house and include it as part of housing plan

November 18, 2009

This story is in contrast to what is happening in a city near Anaheim.

From the Orange County Register – An historic – and dilapidated – citrus packing house in downtown Anaheim will get new life as part of a housing plan approved by the city Tuesday night.

The City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, unanimously backed a concept that calls for construction of 88 for-sale condominiums and the refurbishment of the boarded-up packing house, which will be converted into a large restaurant or other commercial use.

The project is part of a city effort to bring upscale housing and more fashionable retail uses back to a downtown that had faded in recent decades.

The packing house, at the northeast corner of Anaheim Boulevard and Santa Ana Street, dates back to 1919 when it was occupied by the Anaheim Orange & Lemon Growers Association, which later became the Anaheim Valencia Orange Association.

Railroad tracks still run adjacent to the old packing house, commonly known as the Anaheim Citrus Packing House.

With the decline of the citrus industry in Orange County, the building was converted to other uses – most recently as an ice-making factory. But it shuttered its doors earlier this decade and some residents began to wonder if the buidling could be saved.

No doubt it should be saved, said John O’Brien, vice president of urban infill for Brookfield Homes, the project developer.

The historic building has archways and high windows, representative of the architecture that helped define early Orange County.

“We definitely see the packing house as an asset and as an amenity that will draw people downtown,” O’Brien said. “We see it as a place where people will want to walk to from the downtown and to drive to from outside the area to stop for coffee or grab a beer and watch a game.”

Brookfield will be in charge of refurbishing the building and then managing it for commercial use.

O’Brien said the process of finding tenants will come later, but he anticipates a large anchor restaurant inside the 42,700-square-foot building, with smaller surrounding uses such as shops and perhaps a grocery market.

The project also includes 88 condominiums on two surrounding parcels that total just more than 3 acres.

One parcel will consist of 52 homes, the other of 36, each with condos averaging 1,343 square feet. At least nine of the units will be designated as low-income housing and sold at a restricted price of $329,900, city officials said.

The Redevelopment Agency spent $5.9 million for land acquisition, demolition and site preparation. Brookfield paid $3.5 million for the land.

An independent real-estate analysis projected that, with tax revenue, that the project would bring in millions of dollars in profit to the city.

Maurice Turner, a resident in another nearby Brookfield project called Colony Park, came to the council meeting to support the idea.

“I appreciate what the city has done to make the downtown a place to live, work and play,” he said. “This will help solidify the downtown core.”

By Eric Carpenter
Orange County Register

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