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Council votes on funding Town Center-Lantern District final phases Tuesday
By Mike Powers, Chairman of the Town Center Committee
In January 2013, a group of interested business and community leaders, merchants and property owners met to form a committee with the sole purpose of encouraging the city of Dana Point to move forward with the Town Center project, now referred to as the Lantern District.
We met with then Mayor Steve Weinberg and asked him to include the matter on the City Council’s February 2013 agenda. He was gracious enough to do so.
Discussions were held between the city and South Coast Water District. As a result the city and SCWD formed an alliance whereas the SCWD would take the lead in upgrading their water and sewer lines seven years ahead of their planned scheduling and the city would follow behind with improvements, which includes changes in sidewalks, traffic lights, turn lanes, signage and lighting, streets lined with date palms, a tree-lined center median on Del Prado Avenue and much more.
The project took wings in September 2013 when SCWD began their work on Pacific Coast Highway and the city began their construction in February 2014. The initial phases of the project, which included the funding of improvements for PCH, would return the roadway to two-way traffic. These phases of the project are well on their way and should be completed by October.
The remaining phases, which primarily focus on Del Prado, will ideally create the jewel of the project, a pedestrian-friendly setting that will give rise to an infusion of restaurants, upscale shops, sidewalk dining, entertainment venues and other places for people to gather. When completed we will all be proud to call this our Lantern District.
The City Council will meet on Tuesday, June 17to finalize the budget to fund the remaining Del Prado phases which could complete the project as early as March 2015. At that point in time, the city will have done its job by planning and carrying out a return of two-way traffic on both PCH and Del Prado and added all of the necessary amenities that will set the tone to encourage the development and improvement of commercial and mixed use properties.
The surrounding property owners as well as the entire residential community of Dana Point should realize a boost in property values as a result of this project. The city will also realize a gain in revenues from new development fees, retail sales tax and increased property taxes brought on by development of vacant land or improvement of existing commercial properties.
To date, city staff and the council have set a tone for success. They are working on parking programs and have encouraged developers to move ahead now rather than later by offering a discount of development fees. We hear there are approximately six to eight projects in various phases of city approval that could break ground within the next six to nine months.
Lantern District is a big win for the community as a whole and we encourage the community to join on June 17to encourage council members to fund the remainder of Del Prado improvements, as initially envisioned, so we can all realize the benefits of our Lantern District.
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