Amerige Court Becomes Amerige Commons

Hello Fullerton Friends. I’ve been gone for a few weeks owing to the Flu, Family, Festivus and other merriment this time of year. I hope you’re all enjoying your holidays whichever ones you choose to enjoy. Feeling better I wanted to start to dive into some of the public records requests I’ve received from the city but my wife wants me to write about Amerige Court. As my Grandfather once told me that the two most important words in a marriage are “Yes, Dear” I suppose I’m going to have to write about Amerige Court.

For those who don’t keep track of Fullerton boondoggles year in and year out Amerige Court was originally planned to be a 9-Story Mixed Use monstrosity which would sit on the property that is currently some of the most heavily utilized parking for Downtown Fullerton straddling Amerige Avenue between Harbor Blvd and Malden Avenue.

The plus side, at the time of inception anyways, was that it would provide Downtown with 150% of the parking that was (and is) currently available with the downside being every other aspect of this plan. When people got wind of it the city pushed the plan into a “Study Session” where it was cut down from 9 stories to a more reasonable size and the 150% parking requirement was nixed because why not take the only good thing away from the plan.

Time went on and nothing happened and there are many reasons why the plan didn’t go through which I won’t go into but suffice it to say the city of Fullerton is trying to bring this zombie of a plan back to life after 4 years of the City Council Extending the plans for the developer (which has changed). The last time around it was Sebourn who brought the motion to the floor, Fitzgerald seconded it and the vote passed 4-0-1 with Chaffee and Flory in support and Whitaker abstaining for those keeping score at home.

The new monster, now being called Amerige Commons is the basically same train-wreck with a worse name.

The recent feedback session that Jane Rands goes over in detail at The Observer, which I won’t link to because she suspiciously divorced my name from my comments, was a joke because people essentially gave the same complaints that were given year and year out when this plan was originally rolling through the system. No answers were given and no plans were shown. I even made the point to the Senior City Planner, Matt Foulkes, that perhaps the city should do their homework and show up prepared before holding one of these farce meetings.

The problems are simple. For starters the construction is going to be a business killer for the businesses that are currently using those parking lots. The “Restaurant Overlay District” and the special handouts given to special businesses has already made it nearly impossible to park in this area of Fullerton after 6pm on any given day and this will simply destroy the parking. I find it hard to fathom that anybody is going to park two blocks away to walk to the retail shops, coffee shop, hair salons, Ace Hardware, yoga studio and other businesses that rely on actual customers to stay in business. Being that the city relies on taxes, which citizens cannot avoid, to stay alive they don’t seem to understand the simple concept of location, location, location (which always includes parking).

But when it’s done it’ll provide the same parking to the local businesses that manage to stick around so no harm, no foul, right?

Wrong.

Remember as I mentioned above that this new Mixed-Use building will be in the “Restaurant Overlay District”, which I brought up at the recent meeting on this project, meaning that if the developer decides to put eateries in the commercial component of the project they wouldn’t be required to have adequate or additional parking for the restaurant patrons further eating into the available parking.

Also, this 144-unit building will likely be parked at about or less than 2-spots per unit which means it’ll eat street parking as residents scramble to find parking at night when they get home which already happens thanks to the under-parked rentals from the Wilshire Promenade out Westward to Highland Avenue.

As we can see from the Study Session, on 28 September 2016, most of the Mixed-Use buildings in Fullerton are parked at less than 2 spaces per unit and the city only has anecdotal evidence that they’re adequately parked for the residents. My anecdotal evidence of living on Wilshire Avenue for 6 years trumps the City Engineering Department walking the street one afternoon and I say that the complexes are not parked adequately.

Please excuse the poor photo, it’s a screen-grab from the video on the Planning Commission Study Session as I couldn’t find a better version. It states the following in regards to parking; Red Oak: 1.78/Unit, Orangefair: 2/Unit, Wilshire: 1.31/Unit, Pinnacle: 1.76/Unit, Malden Station: 1.45/Unit, City Pointe: 1.57/Unit (an average of 1.66/Unit for parking spaces over these 6 complexes).

The City’s Community Development Director, Karen Haluza, mentioned in her presentation during the recent study session, the population growth of Fullerton and our need for new housing but nowhere in her presentation did she really break down the logistics of how our city works. I’ll give an example of my complaint to go with her numbers. We have a population of approximately 145,000 people according to her numbers and therefore the argument is that we need more housing but how many of that 145,000 are C.S.U.F. students currently renting for the sake of college?  Considering that C.S.U.F. has a student population of nearly 39,000 students with 98% living off campus it should go to point that a good number are renting in the many mixed-use developments currently built in and around our town with particular emphasis on those near C.S.U.F. itself followed by downtown. This doesn’t even factor in Fullerton College, Hope International or any other similar temporary resident draw.

No planning study of Fullerton is complete without noting the huge impact the local colleges have on our rental markets and therefore our housing market as more and more houses transition from single family homes to rental properties over the years in order to capitalize on this issue. (Just wait and watch how Short-Term Rentals further exacerbate this particular problem for people looking to own a home).

I’m not an anti-development guy but this is an idiotic development plan. It’s picking a developer to be a winner while making all of the local businesses that actually make up this part of Downtown Fullerton losers because we know that Fullerton doesn’t know how to plan for the convenience of anybody but the developers (see the cases of the missing sidewalks for examples).

Chronic Failure Downtown Fullerton Food and Drink Redevelopment The Observer

25 thoughts on “Amerige Court Becomes Amerige Commons

  1. This garbage project died along with Felz’s career. It’s not going through without his manipulation of the gullible council. Sorry, Richman Group, you hitched your cart to a horse with a broken leg.

  2. The developer needs to add MORE parking for businesses, not less. If they add more parking and limit the building to 3 stories, I say build it.

    1. The city has historically argued that more underground parking is too expensive and that ‘security concerns’, meaning people don’t like being in underground garages or something, are why those things didn’t make the cut. Where is all the extra parking supposed to come from especially if you’re limiting to three stories?

    2. Even if they add more parking they’ll still kill the parking for the years it takes to build the project which will kill the local businesses you’re essentially building the parking FOR. I don’t know any independent shop that can survive a year or two with no customers.

    3. This sounds good until you remember the people who live in that complex have to park somewhere as well. So yes they might add more parking but they won’t have enough parking for the residents (1.75 spots per unit not room unit). It’s a bad idea all the way around.

      1. I think they want to make a little cash on this one so they can get Fitzgerald’s “balanced” budget back in the black.

      2. Fullerton Old Timer,

        Funny you should ask, I obtained a copy of the agreement through an FOIA request, I’d be happy to email you if you like.

        The original agreement called for payment to the City of a set purchase price (which supposedly was set by an appraisal) minus the estimated cost of the construction of the replacement parking spaces. Of course, the “agreed upon” price was never subject to an independent appraisal (which is routine for private property transactions) so there is no guaranty the “agreed” value was accurate. Also, the agreement was reached in 2008 and property values have risen somewhat since then, and I wonder what would happen if you and I tried to close a sale on a property we had offered eight years ago? Probably get laughed out of town.

        Also, the purchase did not take into account the following “sweetners” as it were (from the FFFF archives) as the project included:

        -Giving $5.5 million from a $6 million bond issue to Pelican Properties to build the parking garage. The bonds were to be paid back by the residents and businesses in the new development. That will cause the businesses to cost $1.93 per square foot more than any other retail space downtown according to the city’s consultant, Keyser Marsten Associates, which advised the city to do “more due diligence” before they entered into this contract.
        -A guarantee of 10% profit to Pelican on the project. Pelican can submit a new budget before escrow closes. If that does not show they will get a 10% profit, they can withdraw from the project. However, at that point, the redevelopment agency can volunteer to pay the required profit to Pelican. The Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency can do this without further input from the city council/redevelopment agency.

        So, no, this isn’t the worst example of an RDA giveway in the City’s history, but its still bad enough.

        1. Ah! Redevelopment, the gift that kept giving – away the store.

          The only thing Redevelopment can giveaway now is land and air rights.

  3. Karen Haluza makes $180K a year and has been nothing but a spokesperson for the Jennifer Fitzgerald pro-massive development program that is well-along in ruining Fullerton. No professional judgment at all. Just more of the same sell-out to out of town developers that was taking place when NOBODY was in charge.

    If we got rid of her at least we could save that much.

    1. I wonder what happened to change her mind about multi-unit construction; she used to be against it (at least in her Brea days).

  4. P.S. Sebourn better pull his head out if he wants another term in office. So far his record has been hardly any different that Flory or Chaffee.

  5. You knuckleheads are hilarious. Bushala made sure the deck chairs got rearranged just right and crawled out of the bong the day AFTER the election. All projects will be approved as planned.

    1. I am not a smart man but your confidence is misplaced. The city manager is gone. The council has changed. Fitzgerald lost her juice.

      Your stock is way down.

  6. Thanks for the post, Josh. I can respect that you’re not an “anti-development guy” but over the years that’s pretty much what I’ve become. I’m sick of developers who keep pitching monstrosities, simply because there’s a demand for housing and money to be made. Not only do they want to build vertically to maximize their profits, but they clearly don’t care about the negative impact on our infrastructure with increased traffic and insufficient parking, not to mention the tremendous amount of water these new residents would require on a daily basis.

    And for a city council (who supposedly represents the interests of Fullerton’s citizens) to even consider proposals like this shows how out of touch they are. At what point do they say, “Stop, enough already!” I think we all know the answer to that one…

  7. Oh, boo hoo, snivel snivel. You all cry about these monsters and then get all acquiescent when the city council rubber stamps them. Nobody even spoke up against the ones on Orangefair, Santa Fe or South Harbor.

    You want to impress the five headed beast? Quit boohooing and get mad and loud.

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