By Kathy Lee Scott
Garden Grove Journal
Garden Grove Councilman Andrew Do persuaded his fellow Garden Grove councilmembers Tuesday night to go for a more modest plan for the Brookhurst Triangle. The unanimous vote set the maximum building height at 10 stories with at most, 700 dwelling units.
“Let’s only go for what we need, not a wish list,” Do said.
Although no developer has agreed to build the project, city staff presented an ordinance to change the zoning to a planned unit development.
The 13.9-acre site, bounded by Brookhurst Street, Brookhurst Way and Garden Grove Boulevard, contained several automotive repair-related businesses for 25 years or more, although part of the site currently has no structures on it.
“It’s so blighted, it’s ugly,” said Councilmember Dina Nguyen. “We need a vision to solicit a project.”
According to City Manager Matt Fertal, the approval will expedite a developer’s process once one does step forward. “The drawings are a marketing tool to showcase properties in the city,” he said.
“I have a good use for that property that creates no traffic or sewer problems,” said 30-year resident Paul Tofpel. “A park where people can go to walk and play.”
Virginia Fuller loved the idea of a park. “I have no place to walk. Even with sidewalks, they’re so torn up, I trip,” she said.
Robin Marcario criticized the original proposal. “A skyscraper of 23 stories is ill-conceived,” she said. The Garden Grove Galleria (still under construction) across the boulevard from this site is only 10 stories tall. “A building over twice the size is objectionable,” she added.
Toby Rubin said, “A 23-story building is not pretty, and we need something pretty.”
With the approval tonight, the city has imposed its standards on any future project, which limits structures to 10-story, includes an open space and landscaped trail winding around them and sculptures to add an aesthetic atmosphere. A conceptual plan from Jerde Partnership showed a water feature as well.
It could contain up to 200,000 square feet of commercial and office space, filled by small storefronts up to a Trader Joe’s-type retail store.
“Reality will lead to what will be built,” Fertal said.
“This concept is not new,” said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Jones. “No one should be surprised the city is pursuing a development here.”
He added, “When we select a developer, I’ll focus on minimizing the impacts on the neighborhoods.”
Under the plan, people can enter at five access points, two off Brookhurst Street, two on Brookhurst Way and one from Garden Grove Boulevard. The last would align with the new entrance to the Galleria currently under construction.
Just last month, the Hyundai car dealership announced it was moving from the triangle to the former Union Dodge showroom on Trask Avenue.
That business, the former Smith Ford and current auto shops may have contaminated the soil, according to Councilmember Bruce Broadwater. “Is the property clean?” he asked.
Fertal noted an earlier developer tested the soil, which showed it clear of contamination. “We’ll retest it before we convey it to a developer,” he said.
The president of Central Garden Grove Neighborhood Association, Cheryl Armstrong, said that 700 residential units was still too dense. “This is the council’s strategy: they propose a project with extreme numbers, then cut it down to numbers that are still high,” she added.