$1B Sustainable Mixed-Use Project Gets Voter Go-Ahead in Santa Paula

The road has been paved for builder and agribusiness concern Limoneira Co. to move forward with its planned $1 billion mixed-use project in Santa Paula, Calif., now that voters have signed off on Measure G, legislation that allows the incorporation of outlying land into the city. Plans to develop the site known as Santa Paula East Area I, located in the Heritage Valley Corridor about 40 miles from Santa Barbara, have been in the works for about five years. In February, Limoneira achieved a significant coup by gaining the unanimous approval of the Santa Paula City Council and Planning Commission for the endeavor. After working with city officials and residents, the company devised a master plan consisting of 1,500 residences ranging from high-end housing to affordable housing, 210,000 square feet of office and retail space, 150,000 square feet of residential space and an amphitheater. The project is being designed as a veritable 24/7 city-within-a-city, and will also encompass its own police and fire stations, schools, athletic fields and a civic center. Yet not all of the land has been designated for development. Nearly 90 acres will be preserved as active parkland, and an additional 220 acres will be set aside as open space that will include avocado groves; leading avocado marketer Calavo Grower Inc. is Limoneira’s single largest shareholder, having acquired a 16 percent stake in the company three years ago. Sustainable development is a central theme for the project, as both design and construction pursuits will incorporate environmentally friendly elements. With voter approval under its belt, Limoneira’s next move toward kicking off construction of the project involves working with the Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission–the property sits between Ventura and Santa Clarita. If all goes as planned, work on the initial phase of the Santa Paula East Area I project could get underway in 2010, with an estimated completion date by 2012. Headquartered in Santa Paula, Limoneira is a land, farming and community builder known as one of the leading integrated agribusiness concerns in the world. In conjunction with various affiliates, partnerships and strategic alliances, the company boasts claim to thousands of acres of commercial property and agricultural land. Additionally, it is the largest grower of Avocados in the State of California, and relies on majority stockholder Calavo to market the produce.