Oxnard Planning Commission signs off on proposal for downtown events center
Republished from Ventura County Star
Feb. 6, 2016
By Staff Reports
Over the weekend, numerous Oxnard residents and business owners took part in workshops to envision a better downtown.
Results of the so-called “charrette” will be presented to the City Council during a study session this evening, Tuesday.
The process was guided by the state chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a nonprofit with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C., that promotes walkable cities and neighborhoods.
Sparking the effort is $6.1 million to be spent downtown. The money comes from an agreement involving Oxnard’s former redevelopment agency and the Century Theatres RiverPark 16 multiplex that opened in 2012 in The Collection shopping center.Tuesday’s presentation will include ideas for “doable, achievable steps” to help revitalize the city center, said Roy Prince, one of the founders the Community Planning Group, an informal local citizens group that helped organize the charrette.
The session is to hear about results of the charrette, not to make decisions on projects.
In other business, the council will vote on a resolution saying it intends to update its local coastal plan to ban new power plants near the beach.
The study session on the downtown charrette starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday, with the regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. The council meets in chambers at 305 W. Third St. By Gretchen Wenner of the Ventura County Star
A meeting and banquet center proposed for downtown Oxnard received unanimous approval from planning commissioners Thursday night despite some concerns about parking.
Parking worries debated during the session show that while, on paper, downtown Oxnard has abundant available parking, in practice some businesses say they are losing customers who can’t find nearby spaces. In addition, women expressed concerns about walking alone to the city parking garage at night or trekking multiple blocks in high heels.
The panel voted 6-0 in favor of the Heritage and Cultural Business Center project, which will revamp and expand an existing office building at 141 W. Fifth St. The site, next to the historic Bank of A. Levy building at Fifth and A streets, dates to the 1960s. It originally provided additional office space for the bank and was internally connected until 2006, according to the city’s report.
Plans call for adding 2,274 square feet to the existing two-story, 13,179-square-foot building. Operators expect to rent space for daytime meetings for nonprofits and businesses as well as hold evening catered events, such as quinceañeras and wedding parties, that could include live music, dancing and beer and wine service.
The building is owned by Carlos Marez of Pacific Coast Produce Inc., who told the panel how he started from scratch in Oxnard 35 years ago with a single truck and now operates a produce business with more than $20 million in annual sales.
“Let us open the doors,” Marez said of the long process of developing the site, which he originally bought with the intention to resell.
Real estate broker Pat Tafoya will serve as general manager, and Hector Pelayo of Alma Cultural Group will help run events and provide catering training for local youth.