They envision a movie theater, a restaurant and retail and commercial office space occupying their triple-story structure. The theater’s offerings – independent and foreign films – could fill a void in the community. Another piece of land – the largest undeveloped lot on the block at 25,000 square feet – is owned by C and C Development Ventures LLC, a partnership between local businessmen Tim Crissman and Joe Caso. They bought the lot three years ago. The partners are planning to wrap a multistory building around the parking structure designated for the site. The space, which also will include development on the parking structure’s roof, will cater to entertainment, office and retail tenants. They hope to have commitments from tenants by the first half of next year. Historically, properties purchased before redevelopment or specific plans build steam have increased afterward. Crissman said the true value of the property remains to be seen. It will depend on whether the metamorphosis takes place. Ahrens is talking with prospective tenants and hopes to have some contracts signed by early 2006. The developer serves on the city’s 13-member New Redevelopment Committee, a quasi-official panel that makes recommendations to the Santa Clarita Planning Commission. Ahrens’ four-year term ends January 2009. Ahrens is working with city staff members and other developers to “coordinate” development on the block of San Fernando Road between 5th and 6th streets. One of the parking structures could be built there. “The idea is to do as much of the block (as possible) at the same time,” Ahrens said. In the meantime, vendors will continue to hawk their wares at the farmers market until construction gobbles up the space. The Downtown Newhall Specific Plan was not the first measure aimed at sprucing up the district. The Freedman Plan, floated in 1997, proposed similar improvements in the area but did not allow for mixed use or provide a zoning code. It fizzled before being realized. Senior planner Jason Smisko said he is pleased local property owners who live and work in Santa Clarita are on board. “We spent almost a year-and-a-half designing the plan,” he said. “It’s awesome to see some energy getting it built on the ground instead of seeing it on paper.” He said full-block proposals are an effective way to go. City staff members will cast a wide net in the coming weeks. They will ask prospective companies who may want to venture into the area for requests for qualifications. The list will be whittled down to identify companies that will then be asked for requests for proposals to develop, Smisko said. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Councilwoman Laurene Weste recused herself from the vote to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because she lives near the project area. The city has earmarked $7 million for rejuvenating the aging district. Initially, $250,000 will be paid to consultants who will help negotiate development proposals, ensure architectural proposals meet the plan’s goals, explain redevelopment law implications and help with project management. Public parking structures would dot the recast “Main Street” along San Fernando Road, which would dead-end at Lyons Avenue. Some residents and business owners worry existing shops and homes on the main drag and in East Newhall will be forced out by a tidal wave of gentrification. City officials say retooled zoning codes that permit denser commercial development will help developers squeeze more usable space from the lots and will provide more opportunities across the board. “It’s the crux of the whole thing,” Ahrens said. He could wring a three-story building from his 22,000-square-foot lot, where just a one-story building was allowed before. Ahrens and his partner snapped up the land about three years ago. They cannot wait to build up. NEWHALL – Years before the current plan to improve the downtown core crystallized, some local businessmen staked a claim in the potential gold mine on San Fernando Road. A couple of business partners bought a vacant corner lot where the weekly seasonal farmers market sets up shop, at San Fernando Road and 6th Street. And then they became involved in the snowballing renewal plan. “We kind of planned on building smaller,” said John Ahrens, a developer and one of the two partners. “We started recognizing the city was heading down the path of making change down there. We were thankfully in the right place at the right time.” On Tuesday, Santa Clarita City Council members voted 4-0 to adopt a comprehensive plan to renovate 50 blocks in the downtown area – including Ahrens’ plot – and recast it as a retail and entertainment magnet. The bulldozer ballet can begin after the plan takes effect Dec. 22.