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Monday, May 29, 2023


Bulldozers are once again rolling on the huge Porter Ranch development, which had been largely stalled by the real estate recession since its approval in 1990.

Grading and the laying of infrastructure is under way on a 660,000-square-foot shopping center inside the 1,300-acre Porter Ranch specific plan area. Just to the north, project developers say one Porter Ranch housing tract has completely sold out and two more are in the works.

“The economy is in better shape, which is why we’re going ahead now,” said Tom Zeiger, commercial project manager for Shapell Industries Inc., the major partner in Porter Ranch Development Co., which is developing Porter Ranch.

The shopping center is located just north of the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway between Winnetka and Corbin avenues in the northwest San Fernando Valley. It was originally proposed as a 2.1 million-square-foot regional center, but has been scaled back twice: Once in the mid-1990s due to the recession and again last year because of opposition from nearby residents.

But while the bulldozers have started, the shopping center still faces opposition from local residents concerned about traffic and the tenant mix.

“They are expecting up to 30,000 customers a day and there are only two ways in or out: one along Rinaldi Street and the other on the (Ronald Reagan) freeway,” said Walter Prince, land-use chairman of PRIDE, a Northridge homeowners group. (PRIDE used to stand for Porter Ranch is Developed Enough, but the full name has been dropped.)

Prince, who also sits on the Porter Ranch Design Review Board, also expressed concern over the proposed tenants for the shopping center, which he said include a Wal-Mart, a Pet Smart store and a Toys-R-Us.

“When this project was first approved, residents were promised upscale tenants, like a Neiman-Marcus,” Prince said. “When the neighborhood finds out that the tenants are not as upscale, they will be furious.”

Zeiger declined to say whom the tenants will be.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on the nearby housing tracts. Shapell director of marketing Jerry Sellers said grading is expected to be completed later this year or early next year on the mid-priced Villagio tract and the top-end Renaissance tract.

The market has been favorable of late, Sellers noted. All of the units on the mid-priced Heights tract have already sold out, ahead of schedule, he said.

The Porter Ranch project approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 1990 included plans for 3,400 homes and 6 million square feet of commercial and office space on 1,300 acres; at the time, it was the largest single development project in city history. The City Council approved the first phase calling for construction of 725 homes in January 1993.

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