Newhall Ranch isn’t the only massive residential development planned in Los Angeles County. Another one is up the Golden State (5) Freeway near the Grapevine.

Tejon Ranch Co. wants to plunk down a midsize city of 23,000 homes, and 14 million square feet of commercial and retail space in the county’s northwest corner.

But after a much touted agreement between Tejon Ranch and environmental groups four years ago that appeared to clear the way for the 11,000-acre Centennial project, very little visible progress has been made. The environmental impact report process has dragged out longer than expected with no release date in sight.

Instead, Tejon Ranch – the state’s largest remaining private owner of contiguous land – has focused on fast-tracking another somewhat smaller project, Tejon Mountain Village, just over the border in Kern County, which approved it last year.

Meanwhile, since the 2008 agreement, the housing market has gone through an epic bust, leaving open the question of whether there’s still sufficient demand for a project like Centennial, some 60 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

“It’s hard to see a project like this happening right now,” said Chris Redfearn, associate professor with the USC Price School of Public Policy. “But Tejon Ranch has a very long time horizon. So the key for them will be to bring this project forward at a time when the cycle turns once again and the demand will be there.”

Tejon Ranch officials said that environmental review and planning work is going on behind the scenes and that the project remains on track, though they won’t give a groundbreaking date.

“We have been working closely with the Los Angeles County planning office and the surrounding communities to ensure that our project correctly addresses all the issues associated with a master-planned community of this quality and scale,” said Greg Medeiros, vice president of community development with Centennial Founders LLC, the arm of Tejon Ranch carrying out the project.

Walkable villages

As currently envisioned, Centennial would be a self-contained community situated in a high-desert valley about seven miles east of Gorman that’s now mostly grazed grassland. At full build-out in 20 years, plans call for nearly 13,000 single-family homes, 6,000 condominiums and townhomes, and 4,000 apartments. Centennial is also seeking approvals for 12 million square feet of business and office space, and an additional 2 million square feet of retail space. There would be eight elementary schools, two high schools, four fire stations, 21 parks, two transit centers and 155 miles of internal roadways.

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