Westminster Selects Developer Team To Revamp Civic Center

Westminster City Hall. JEFF ANTENORE, Voice of OC Contributing Photographer

The developer team of the Sheldon Group and Project Dimensions was selected Wednesday by the Westminster City Council to remake the city’s Civic Center into residential, retail and office spaces.

The City Council voted 4-1, with councilman Sergio Contreras abstaining, to select the Sheldon Group over two other teams of developers, after listening to ten-minute presentations from each team. They did not ask any follow-up questions.

The vote commits the city to an exclusive agreement with the Sheldon-Project Dimensions team to negotiate a public-private partnership for rebuilding the Civic Center.

The 8.32 acre Civic Center, located along Westminster Boulevard between Newland Street and Beach Boulevard, consists of city hall, a senior center, county library, police department and county Superior Court building.

The city’s General Plan, which was updated last year, re-zoned the civic center for mixed uses and calls for “leveraging” the city’s land ownership to redevelop the campus into a “walkable destination” with residential, retail and office spaces.

The city received three proposals in response to a request for qualifications, a preliminary step to find qualified vendors before soliciting design proposals for the development.

Rather than solicit bids for official proposals of the project, city staff brought the three teams before the council Wednesday, where  each gave a ten minute presentation outlining their qualifications and preliminary ideas for the project.

One was a team led by the Olson Company, which is partnering with Hillcrest Development and Griffin Structures. Griffin built the city’s Police Department headquarters located in the Civic Center.

Another proposal came from Irvine-based City Ventures, Capital Partners and KTGY, the latter which currently has a $45,000 contract with the city to create a new concept plan for revitalizing the Westminster Mall.

Sheldon Group, headed by developer Steve Sheldon, is working with Project Dimensions, known locally for its work for the county of Orange planning the make over of Dana Point Harbor. Although Project Dimensions’ work managing the project, which began in 2002, has ended, construction has not begun and the county is looking to enter into a public-private partnership to complete the project.

With the exception of Contreras, council members all expressed support for the proposal by the Sheldon Group.

Mayor Tri Ta said the Sheldon Group’s presentation was the most convincing because he discussed financing options for the project.

“He also has the experience to work with the county,” Ta said. “I think the last developer has give us more ideas.”

Contreras said he wanted more information before voting to select any individual developer, and suggested the council conduct a parking study and appraisals of their property before moving forward with selection.

“I’d like to see if there’s any possibility to open it up and give all three groups the opportunity to show what they have to work with and look at what’s available,” Contreras said. “We don’t have to be married to anybody just yet. There seems to be a bit of a rush.”

Roger Torriero, the founder of Griffin Structures, also asked the council to consider issuing an official bid and allowing all three companies to submit specific designs.

Councilman Tyler Diep, responding to a member of the public who questioned why there weren’t designs available for the public to see, said their decision to select a developer would only be the beginning of a process.

He said the next several months would include community events where members of the public can give input into the design.

“If you’re here tonight looking for a specific design, there isn’t any,” said Diep. “It costs money to draw something up and developers, most of the time, they want to have some assurance that they’re the guy or the firm that the city will most likely work with before they put in that kind of investment.”

City Manager Eddie Manfro noted that, if the council wasn’t satisfied with the design proposal at the end of the negotiating period, they don’t have to move forward.

“I think Sheldon’s work is fantastic, that’s not where I’m stuck at,” Contreras said. “I’m stuck at, I think we as a city should look at our property to do a parking study, find out the value of our land, what’s the range we’re working with, before we commit to anyone.”

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Bill421

    City Hall should include a homeless shelter. Put the peoples money to work to help the most needy

    • westminster_guy

      Not a bad idea at all. The homeless problem is all over the city/county/state, where we live, work & play. Integrating one with City Hall would be a great way to keep the issue in front of the council members’ eyes.

    • kburgoyne

      All government seats should have homeless shelters positioned in such a way that the legislators have to pass through them on their way to the legislative chamber.

  • David Zenger

    Steve Sheldon and PDI? Did anyone bother to ask PDI how they managed to milk the County for $15,000,000 at Dana Point without building anything?

    Steve Sheldon isn’t a developer. He’s a lobbyist.

    Oh, well, Westminster, you get what you deserve.

    • Cynthia Ward

      I’m sorry to correct you Dave, but Sheldon is a developer. Honest to goodness real estate developer, I have first hand knowledge of some projects (long story) and he actually does build stuff. He hasn’t been a “lobbyist” in years.

      • David Zenger

        I’d love to see a list of projects Sheldon has actually built.

        Let’s face it – using political influence to get projects entitled in order to flip is not developing anything. It’s basically lobbying

        • Cynthia Ward

          This is one I know of, I had to pull history for the site. Like I said, long story on how I came across this, but he had his own skin in the game on this one, partnered with Lennar, not just lobbying, and this one I know first hand.

          I’m not speaking for him, not acting as his apologist, just correcting some info that seems outdated, knowing your passion for fully researched facts. Have a good day, my friend.

  • kburgoyne

    What happened to the redevelopment concept in the corner of the 405/22 merge? The old Sunset Ford all the way down to Springdale is contiguous land prime for commercial given its abundant 22 frontage and partial 405 frontage.

    I actually have a lot of respect for the owner of those trailer parks for doing an excellent job of maintaining their perimeters. However trailer parks don’t benefit a lot from freeway frontage. If nothing else, work with the owner on a land swap that at least reconfigures the trailer parks to being behind commercial land facing the 22.

    A lot of traffic ends up making that run from Garden Grove Blvd, along Springdale, to the Huntington Beach industrial complex. It’s one (among several) of the reasons why that Starbucks is at Springdale and Westminster.

    Although… I’ll admit that perhaps research needs to be done first to determine why the Lucky’s ended up failing there. That seemed very odd to me. It was more convenient to a lot of the single family homes surrounding it than the Albertsons, not that the Albertsons is a big inconvenience.

  • kburgoyne

    Not even some conceptual artist renderings before committing? Really?

  • westminster_guy

    I agree with Contreras. It does seem odd to commit to a specific developer already. I’m no real estate guy, but in every industry I’ve worked, writing proposals defining high level plans is a cost of doing business. Diep’s statement comes across as not just condescending but implausible on the face of it.

    • kburgoyne

      Agreed. “Cost of doing business.” Anybody who’s been involved in business-to-business deals knows the guy trying to sell his services is expected to deliver early proposals of what they can deliver.

    • LagunaTri

      The responsible thing to do as a good steward of taxpayer funds would be to issue an RFP forcing these guys to put their money where their mouths are. The LAST person I’d trust in this group is Sheldon. All one has to do is google his name. Heck, there’s even a Steve Sheldon Watch FB site. You can’t make this stuff up. The guy seems like a slimy broker/developer who builds (or sells the rights to the highest bidder) and bails. Good for Contreras for using logic and being a responsible representative; too bad he was outnumbered by those who’d been duped.

      • David Zenger

        “The guy seems like a slimy broker/developer who builds (or sells the rights to the highest bidder) and bails.”

        That’s pretty close. I wonder if anybody in Westminster bothered to see what Sheldon has ever built. It might look a lot like an 8th grade woodshop birdhouse.

        In this instance any capital needed as a bona fide would be put up by Mr. Real Housewife of OC, George Peterson of PDI, who made a fortune as a County “consultant” at Dana Point Harbor as nothing got built.