The Orange County city of Fountain Valley is growing up – and some residents don’t like it.
Despite the objections of dozens of local residents, the Fountain Valley City Council approved a five-story, 270-unit apartment building with ground-floor shops and restaurants at the northeast corner of Slater Ave. and San Mateo St., the Orange County Register reported.
The mixed-use project near the 405 Freeway would add exceptional height to a city whose tallest commercial buildings, Hyundai Motor America Headquarters and Orange Coast Patient Care Pavilion, stand at six stories.
“I’m afraid we’re going to get closed in by tall buildings,” a woman told the council prior to the 3-2 vote. Referencing the city’s motto, she added, “I want to keep Fountain Valley a nice place to live.”
Around two dozen others urged officials to reject a project they said would boost traffic, tie up parking and charge rents higher than most young families can afford.
Parents pointed to the housing affordability crisis that has forced young adults to leave the state to buy a home, saying it’s a family issue. “We are apart from our grandchildren,” a woman said.
The 3.3-acre apartment complex, developed by Newport Beach-based Slater Investments, will offer a mix of studio up to four-bedroom apartments, with rents between $1,800 and $3,500 per month. Thirty-three units are earmarked affordable, starting at over $1,500.
The Slater Avenue project will include a 2,000-square-foot outdoor dining area and a 1,660-square-foot art gallery. A six-level parking garage will contain 541 vehicles.
A new 5,000-square-foot restaurant will take the place of Silky Sullivan’s, an Irish pub across the street from City Hall that for decades has served as a town center. Construction, slated to begin in about eight months, will require demolition of Silky’s and two office buildings.
“This place has been generating tax revenue for Fountain Valley for 38 years,” one patron lamented. “Where’s the loyalty?”
However, Councilman Glenn Grandis noted, Silky’s owner Bill Madden “sold his property willingly” to the developer for $2.4 million two years ago. Madden now has a lease that’s up in January.
The state requirement mandates Fountain Valley zone for 4,839 new housing units, with 2,093 reserved for very low income to low income households, to help alleviate a housing shortage.
Peggy Tabas, managing member of Slater Investments, said Fountain Valley is no longer “the place for a starter home.”
“It used to be, in the ’70s, but those days are gone,” Tabas said. “If you want an affordable house, you’re going to have to go out to the Inland Empire first and work your way up to Fountain Valley.”
[Orange County Register] – Dana Bartholomew