GSA wants to lease/sell Laguna Niguel “Ziggurat “step pyramid

Early this morning I covered the Urban Land Institute’s, ULI’s O.C. Mayors Forum that was held at the First American Title Company office in Santa Ana. In their brochure it reads that “ULI Orange County celebrates 20 years of bringing together leaders in the responsible use of land to create and sustain thriving communities.”

Christine Iger, President Iger & Associates Government Interface Consultants, did a commendable job as moderator of the panel which included mayors of four Orange County cities. Carolyn Cavecche of Orange, Doug Davert of Tustin, Robert Ming of Laguna Niguel and Frank Ury of Mission Viejo. Included in the 85 attendees was Mission Viejo councilman John Paul Ledesma. Mayor Cavecche introduced two member of the city of Orange’s community development department.

What a diverse group. Mission Viejo became a city in 1988 followed by Laguna Niguel which became OC’s 29th city in 1989. On the same panel we heard Mayor Cavecche speak of Historic Landmark homes in the city of Orange which she said is 121 years old. The city of Tustin was incorporated 82 years ago in 1927.
While Tustin has the good fortune of buildable land at the old MCAS Tustin base, Mission Viejo is built out.
Ms. Iger’s opening question to the panel was to elaborate on their “toughest vote” after being elected. Carolyn responded first saying RV Ordinance Frank said our potential joint-use school gymnasium which we turned down where he said “I cast the vote to make it not happen.”

As the majority of the attendees were there to get some good news Laguna Niguel Mayor Ming offered the brightest opportunities to pursue. He shared three possibilities starting with their “Gateway District” area by the Metrolink station near Sepulveda Building Material yard on Forbes Road that requires rezoning.

A second possibility was the old County courthouse at the intersection of Alicia Parkway and Crown Valley Parkway.

Gilbert sidebar. I later spoke to Laguna Niguel City Manager Tim Casey on all three mentioned parcels and was told that the County had plans to build a new 200,000 square foot Justice Center on that site but for now that project is on hold. The city did purchase four acres at that location from the county for a new city hall that is in the schematic design phase now. Mr. Casey said the building will be approximately 40,000 feet on two floors with a target completion date of Nov. 1, 2011. The new city hall location will be on the North side of Crown Valley Parkway west of Alicia Parkway toward the County library.

The third opportunity mentioned by Mayor Ming is huge. I visited this 78 acre site which includes Laguna Niguel “step pyramid” when first applying for social security and drove by it again today. It is a landmark which those of us who live, work or shop in south County recognize as the million square foot “Ziggurat” building that Robert said can be seen from outer space. The full and correct name is the Chet Holifield Federal Building, CHFB.

Let me now provide specifics stated in this RFI, Request for Information, from the GSA in which responses will be accepted from June 1 through June 24, 2009.

“The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Pacific Rim Region (Region 9) is considering the redevelopment of the CHFB to enhance the value of the asset to the federal government and the local community. GSA’s key objectives are to:

Leverage the expertise of real estate industry to enhance the CHFB as a valuable asset; Maximize financial return to the government and taxpayers; Provide approximately 750,000 rentable square feet of newly constructed or renovated space; Provide for increased public access to the site; and Contribute to the vitality of Laguna Niguel and Orange County.

GSA invites development teams and other interested parties (“Respondents”) to submit conceptual redevelopment proposals that maximize the potential of the CHFB site with a financially viable project that meets GSA’s objectives. With GSA’s commitment to enhance its real estate portfolio be leveraging underutilized assets and the support of the local community, a CHFB redevelopment plan can truly take shape with your input and vision.”

Gilbert comment. City Manager Casey is very familiar with my position on redevelopment abuses and reminded me that Laguna Niguel does not have a redevelopment agency. I told him that this may become the largest public/ private development venture in south OC.

Gilbert note: The CHFB building will be leased/sold “as is.”
All responses are to be sent to the following address:
U.S. General Services Administration
Real Property Utilization and Disposal
Re: Chet Holifield Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue, 4th Floor East (9PZ)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Attn: Mr. David L. Haase
fax: 415-522-3213

Submissions must be received by Mr. David Hasse, Project Manager, Real Property Utilization and Disposal Division, by 12:00p.m. (noon) on June 24, 2009.

Wrap-up. Other questions asked by Christine Iger included “how do you prepare for meetings; whose in charge of your vision statement?, use of stimulus funds; water and SB 375 impact on local control.

One attendee from a Sprague? Reality Capital Corp. asked the panel about their efforts regarding “affordable housing.” Doug Davert mentioned the former Tustin base as a target area. Frank Ury said that our city’s largest employer is Mission Hospital where one out of every six employees drives in from outside the city. Mission Viejo is promoting a “first responder” preference in future affordable housing.

About Larry Gilbert