The Santa Clarita City Council will consider negotiating with Laemmle Theatres and a developer partner to bring a 6-screen Laemmle art house movie theater and residential units to Old Town Newhall.
The location under discussion is the empty city block that’s owned by the city and its former redevelopment agency across from the Old Town Newhall Library (bounded by Lyons, Main, 9th and Railroad).
The combined project is expected to generate an estimated $4 million in economic activity annually in an area the city has long been trying to revitalize.
The council is scheduled to discuss the matter at its regular meeting Tuesday evening.
The city and its redevelopment agency purchased the 2-acre block across from the new library in November 2008 with the intention of redeveloping it. Some of the property was leased; when tenants’ leases expired, the existing buildings were bulldozed to make way for a new project. A Laemmle-type theater had been in the plans for the site since 2005, along with a housing component and public parking. (Under state redevelopment law, 20 percent of redevelopment assets had to be set aside to improve the housing stock in blighted areas. The downtown area qualified.)
Then in early 2012 the Legislature and the governor canceled redevelopment throughout the state. In 2011, as redevelopment was unraveling, Santa Clarita’s redevelopment agency transferred some of its property to the city.
Today the block consists of nine parcels, some of which are owned by the city, some by the “successor agency” to the redevelopment agency, and some by the city on behalf of the housing obligation under the old redevelopment law.
In 2013, as required by state law after the termination of redevelopment, the city filed a “long-range plan” to sell off its redevelopment property.
Under the long-range plan, which the state accepted, the city said it would put the property to bid and sell it to a developer who would create a project consistent with the city’s Old Town Newhall redevelopment plan.
The city solicited bids from nearly 100 potential applicants. There were five responses. Three were tossed out because they didn’t include a theater or public parking.
The two qualifying bidders were Laemmle Theatres in partnership with Serrano Development Group/Pacific Coast Housing Development of Glendale; and Maya/HighRidge Costa.
After meetings with staff and a professional consultant and a subcommittee of Mayor Marsha McLean and Councilman Bob Kellar, the Laemmle/Serrano proposal floated to the top.
Tuesday, the City Council will consider directing staff to see if it can work out the nuts and bolts with Laemmle and Serrano. The latter develops multifamily, industrial and retail projects throughout the southwestern United States, including the current Laemmle Lofts housing project in Glendale.
Under separate ownership, the new theater, on 12,000 square feet of the redevelopment block, and 46 new 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom condo or apartment units on 37,500 square feet of the redevelopment block, would be handled by the city as two separate projects.
The city (or related agency) would hang onto some of the property for an eventual third project – a 300-space public parking structure.