The Santa Clarita City Council voted 3-1 Tuesday night to move forward with the development of a three-part project in Old Town Newhall including a Laemmle art-house movie theater, a mixed-use apartment and retail building by Serrano Development Group, and a city-owned public parking structure.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste had to sit out the discussion and vote because of the proximity of her home to the project site, and Councilman TimBen Boydston voted “no.”
Nearly 40 city of Santa Clarita residents voiced opinions, mainly of support but some with opposition. More than 100 other comment cards were submitted in support of the project.
The Serrano Development Group part of the redevelopment block is expected to cost more than $21 million and include 26 residential units with 85 parking spaces.
Laemmle Theatres is expected to cost more than $8 million, of which $3.4 million in construction costs will be covered by the city. The theater will include seven screens with about 500 seats. The terms of the Laemmle agreement last 15 years with the ability to reduce the number of screens.
The parking structure is expected to include 400 spaces with one sublevel and five above-ground levels. The project is expected to cost $15.2 million. Parking will be free.
Santa Clarita resident Dick Jeffrey said: “We have long been in desperate need of a more centralized and convenient parking area for the downtown area.”
An economic impact study conducted by Applied Economics, expects a $6.4 million increase in economic impact, with $5.8 million spent on local business and $64,000 in revenue to the city. The study also showed an expected increase of $10 million in property values with $6.6 million of that in the Old Town Newhall area and a $14,900 of annual revenue to the city.
The study showed an impact of $14.57 million in new, annual taxable sales.
“(This) is going to be great for Santa Clarita, is going to be great for Old Town Newhall,” said Parks Commissioner Kevin Korenthal, a member of the former Newhall Redevelopment Committee.
The next steps for the project include an oversight board meeting, future City Council actions which include awarding the contracts for an architect and design-build team as well as the easement of the mixed-use project parking access, and project entitlements.
Boydston said, “There is nothing I would like better than to have a Laemmle Theatre in Old Town Newhall,” but offered his own alternative project before ultimately casting the lone no” vote.
“The council has to have a vision to provide new economic development to continue to provide funds for project we call care about,” Councilwoman Marsha McLean said. “To allow us to continue to be the fabulous city that we are … I recommend the (staff recommendation to) move ahead.”
Mayor Bob Kellar and Mayor Pro-Tem Dante Acosta both supported the project.
“We have an opportunity tonight to change the face of Old Town Newhall,” Acosta said.
Representatives of local businesses and organizations including the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, Valley Industry Association, Santa Clarita Valley Bicycle Coalition, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., ARTree Community Arts Center, as well as individual business and property owners in the Old Town Newhall area voiced their support for the project.
Opposition topics for the project included concerns over the amount of public money to be spent whether there will be enough handicapped parking spaces, and whether Laemmle could guarantee showing “artistic” films if the number of screens is reduced.
“People know what a Laemmle Theatre is,” said Greg Laemmle, “and this will be a Laemmle Theatre.”
To read the full agenda item, click here.