Amerige Court is back. This project is so old that no current member of the Fullerton City Council was even there when it was originally approved. At that time, despite objections from Fullerton residents that the buildings were over-scaled, badly designed, and just unnecessary, the city council voted to allow developer Pelican-Laing to build six (or seven, depending on how they were counted) storey mixed use retail and residential buildings that would tower over the historic downtown storefronts.
Since 2006, not only have we had a complete turnover of members of the Fullerton City Council, but John Laing Homes, the Laing part of Pelican/Laing, has filed for Chapter 11, leaving Pelican to try to raise financing for this monstrosity nobody wants.
The project was originally sold the public as a way to get a private developer to provide more free parking for the downtown businesses. But by the time the project had been redesigned, it actually represented a net loss of parking. The residential units were supposed to be for sale only, providing the stability of an owner occupied populace to quiet things down in the bar district. Later revisions, however, allowed the developer to rent out the apartments and lofts. No owners, no more parking, no benefits to anyone other than a slick developer, but that didn’t stop the City Council from approving extension after extension up until two years ago, when the public were assured that Pelican would finally line up financing, and should be given the chance to do so. At that time, even Dick Jones argued against granting a two year extension, preferring a one year extension, but he eventually went along with the rest of the herd anyway and voted for the full two year plan.
There is a history of the project on the city’s website. (It ends in 2009—even the city planners must have gotten tired of looking at it.)
In 2012 Pelican guaranteed itself a two year extension of its Development Agreement with the City of Fullerton by greasing the wheels with contributions to the anti-Recall campaign of then Councilmembers Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley. Councilmember Bruce Whitaker and then-Councilmember Sharon Quirk-Silva voted against the extension.
And here we are today, eight years after it’s original approval, with the “Fifth Amendment to the Disposition and Development Agreement Between the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency (which no longer exists!) and Pelican/Laing Fullerton, LLC, (which no longer exists either!) Regarding the Sale and Development of Certain Real Property Located Along the North and South Sides of the 100 Block of West Amerige Avenue.”
The staff report is replete with excuses made about the state of the economy and the disposition of former Redevelopment Agency dissolution legislation and its aftermath. Project Manager Charles Kovac, formerly of the now defunct Fullerton Redevelopment Agency, finally recommends the adoption of the amendment “in the interest of moving the project forward (!),” as if that is our problem—to make sure a horribly designed, unneeded giveaway mega-development with no independent financing should be able to move forward! Remember, this is Public Land being given away.
And the city government is so arrogant about the issue that they’ve placed it on the Consent Calendar, and not scheduled it as a public hearing. Unless a member of the City Council or the attending public asks to have the item pulled for discussion, it will pass without even a public hearing. Oh, and it will cost us $ 5,000.00 for the privilege of giving the developer more of our time and money to waste.
In contradistinction to the recommendation of Fullerton’s Planning staff, The Fullerton Rag recommends that The Fullerton City Council reject this Fifth Amendment, and let the project expire. Instead, either let the area alone and preserve the parking that exists, or, if there is some demonstrable benefit to the people of Fullerton who own this land, open up the process for another developer with a better project and the financing to build it.