Sunday, December 24, 2006

Whizin, home to Canyon Club, gets $26 million

Agoura Hills center is sold

Whizin, home to Canyon Club, gets $26 million

By Jim McLain, jmclain@VenturaCountyStar.comDecember 23, 2006

An Agoura Hills shopping center that is home to one of Southern California's best-known small concert venues has been purchased by a Calabasas developer and will be integrated into a plan to revitalize the city's downtown.
The Whizin Shopping Center, an 84,979-square-foot retail venue, was bought earlier this month by Tucker Investment Group for $26.2 million. CEO Bill Tucker said the center houses 25 to 30 businesses, including the Canyon Club, which regularly stages performances by popular bands and singers.

Tucker's firm bought the center at 28912 Roadside Drive adjacent to Highway 101 along with 2.73 undeveloped acres across the freeway on Canwood Street that has nearly 1,000 feet of freeway frontage. The seller was the Whizin Foundation, a support organization of the Jewish Community Foundation in Los Angeles. Among other entities, the group helps fund Los Angeles' University of Judaism. The deal closed Dec. 1.
Tucker said his group hopes to make the center a focal point of the city's revitalization project.
"We are right at the doorstep of where Agoura Hills has ... identified as what they want to create as their pedestrian-friendly downtown area," Tucker said. "We want to play into that and be a pedestrian-friendly center with an urban living room feel."
He said his group will hire architects soon and work with city officials to upgrade the center in a project that will entail elements of Agoura Hills' newly adopted Agoura Village Specific Plan Zone.
The Whizin Center is inside the zone, but the undeveloped land across the freeway is not. Tucker said it will take several months for his group to put together a proposal to take to the city. A city official said the zone includes strict requirements.
"It's pretty specific regarding allowable uses and types of amenities that would be required ? landscaping, hardscape improvements and architectural design to keep within the village theme," said Doug Hooper, Agoura Hills' assistant community development director. "It's a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly environment."
Tucker has experience working with high-end projects. He is former chairman and remains on the board of the Bayside District, which developed and manages Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade and owns several properties in Burbank Village, a recently completed project in downtown Burbank.
Tucker insisted, though, that the Agoura Hills project will not be patterned after those.
"It's a different animal," he said. "Every area is unique. What works in Santa Monica works in Santa Monica. What works in Burbank works in Burbank. ? This is an area that is unique to itself. It has to be treated with attention. We want to make sure it's done properly and fits -in with the community."
The Whizin Shopping Center was named for a restaurant that was its best-known tenant for decades. Several other restaurants have occupied that space. Wood Ranch is there now, though it is in a new building.
Tucker said his group wants to keep Wood Ranch, the Canyon Club and many other current tenants, but improvement plans are just getting started.
"We're just getting our arms around it," he said. "We think that it's a great center in a great location ? it should play an integral part of the whole downtown."
His firm has not begun to consider plans for the undeveloped land included in the sale. Tucker described that property as "the gravy in the transaction," but said their main interest is the Whizin Center.
Brokers Michael Ross and Fred Cordova of Colliers International Investment Group in Los Angeles represented the Whizin Foundation in the sale, while Tucker Investment Group was self-represented.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Agoura Hills general plan update underway

Agoura Hills general plan update underway
By Stephanie Bertholdo

Agoura Hills residents have been invited to help shape the future of their city by attending a joint meeting between the City Council and the planning commission.

According to Allison Cook, senior planner, the Dec. 13 meeting will give residents the opportunity to learn about how the city's general plan will be updated. The document is a framework for city development over the next decade.

Commercial, residential and industrial development is outlined in the general plan, as well as traffic patterns, natural resources, hiking trails, streets, sidewalks and other public works. Also addressed by the plan are issues pertaining to noise, public safety and the local economy.
The update is a three-phase process. The city already conducted several workshops and mailed a written survey to more than 23,000 Agoura Hills residents earlier this year to see how they feel about a variety of city issues.

Survey questions ranged from what people enjoy most about living in Agoura Hills to what they would like to see in the way of transportation, land development, community services and business opportunities. An independent firm analyzed the results and prepared a report, which will be shared at next Wednesday's meeting.

The second phase of the update will begin next year. City staff will prepare reports on traffic, conservation, parks, infrastructure, recreation, housing needs, population demographics, open space and community services. Included will be updated goals, policies, objectives and programs that should be a part of the general plan. The third phase will finalize land use documents and analyze potential environmental consequences pertaining to the California Environmental Quality Act.

The meeting is expected to draw many residents with con
cerns about the Agoura Village plan. City officials view the village south of the 101 Freeway as an eclectic future town center mixing retail and commercial businesses with housing units in a "pedestrian friendly" atmosphere. Opponents see the plan as a threat to the environment and a violation of the exisiting general plan.

Mary Altmann, a Malibou Lakeside resident who formed Citizens for Sensitive Development, a group opposing the development, has filed a citizen's lawsuit to stop or at least delay the development.
The general plan update meeting will be from 6 to 9 p.m. next Wednesday at city hall, 30001 Ladyface Court in Agoura Hills.