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Project Gets New Life; Anti-Nuisance Measures OK'd
Calexico Council Meeting

Calexico Project Gets New Life; Anti-Nuisance Measures Get Nod

CALEXICO — Despite thin information from Calexico officials about what might be built at the revived Calexico Mega Park/Jasper’s Crossing project, the city council on Feb. 5 approved the project’s final subdivision map.

More than a decade in the making, Calexico Mayor Bill Hodge described Mega Park as a mix of commercial and light industrial development at the southeast corner of Jasper Road and Highway 111.

The council’s 3-0 vote sliced up a previously city-approved two-parcel, 155-acre development into 18 parcels of various sizes. Council Member Rosie Fernandez and Mayor Pro Tem David Romero were absent.

Formerly known as Calexico Mega Park II, the newly renamed Calexico Mega Park Unit 1 project has been under some phase of development since at least 2009. Referred to as Jasper’s Crossing in some records, published reports over the years have claimed the project would include a mix of retail and warehousing.

The project would also include the development of Jasper as a new route connecting truck traffic to the Calexico East Port of Entry.

Hodge had few insights when asked about the project Feb. 6. Information has been spotty from the city, which has not received site plans from the developer, Assistant City Manager Miguel Figueroa said Feb. 4. He declined to discuss the project in further detail until the city receives those plans.

Project History

Prior to the council’s vote to split the parcels, which city officials said would allow the project to develop in phases, Figueroa gave the council a bit of project history.

“This is one of the first things I had to deal with back in September 2017 when I was brought on in my role as director of community and economic development. This project stood out right away because of entitlements (such as the approved maps),” Figueroa told the council Feb. 5.

The project “was very attractive,” Figueroa said, had already gone through the entire economic-impact report phase, had been approved and was ready to move forward when, for reasons Figueroa did not explain, it stalled.

Apparently, from what Figueroa described as the “Calexico Mega Park” team, which he did not further identify, the same developers have been on board since Figueroa took over the project.

“What I do want to share with you is, what is being proposed now is an updated development that suits the needs of the city. A project of this magnitude could bring many opportunities,” he told the council.

“I’m happy to report that as a result of this picking up more traction, a group of professionals was brought in to create a cohesive team that has fast-tracked a lot of what you have here in front of you today. It’s part of the new breed of bringing new life to the city,” Figueroa added.

The owners of the land are listed as Calexico Mega Park LLC, said Jack Dunnam of the Imperial County Assessor’s office. It appears the land has not changed hands since 2006 and the most recent activity at the county level shows a lot-line adjustment signed off by Mega Park managing partner Phil Heald in December 2008, Assessor’s records state.

Heald, a longtime Imperial Valley resident, was known for years as the owner of the Imperial Stores hardware chain and recently sold the firm.

It wasn’t immediately available if Heald is still a principal member of Calexico Mega Park LLC. No other information was available from the Assessor. Calexico Mega Park LLC does maintain an El Centro post office box address.

Contact information for Heald was not immediately available.

“A project of this magnitude could bring many opportunities.”

Assistant City Manager Miguel Figueroa

Council Approves Grant Application

Added to the council meeting as an emergency item, the council approved 3-0 teaming with a long-time affordable-apartment-builder, Chelsea Investment Corp. A $3.5 million state infrastructure in-fill grant will be sought so the city could finish its part of infrastructure improvements to several roads tied to an ongoing project.

Chelsea is the developer of 274 affordable and market-rate condos and apartments south of Highway 98 west of Highway 111 as part of something called the Remington Project. However, portions of the project are reportedly stymied by the city not being able to afford the infrastructure improvements needed to build out several streets, explained David Davis, a project manager with Chelsea working on the Remington condos/apartments.

The lack of infrastructure is affecting Chelsea’s ability to get certificates of occupancy for some of the units, he told the council.

The city and Chelsea want to team up to seek no more than $3.5 million through the state Department of Housing and Community Development, Davis said. Of that, $3.2 million is needed for the city to build out the streets.

The funding became available in October, Velasco said.  The deadline to seek the grant is Feb. 18, and Chelsea and the city only recently became aware of it, Davis added.

Chelsea and the city qualify to apply for the money because around 64 units of the development would be considered fulfilling a need for fixed rent, low-income “affordable” housing, Davis said.

Nuisance Ordinance Approved, Firm Hired

The council also approved 3-0 a one-year professional services agreement with Fire Prevention Services Inc. of El Cajon to clean-up properties in the city cluttered with overgrown weeds and strewn with trash, work Hodge said could begin almost immediately.

Describing it as a “turn-key” operation, Calexico City Manager David Dale said the firm will monitor nuisance-abatement citations, property clean-up and billing the property owner.

The city does not have the staff or financial resources needed to run its own nuisance-abatement operations, Dale added. The city will identify sites for initial code violations or alert FPS to watch for troubled areas, Dale wrote in a report to the council.

One area of concern is a vacant lot near East Sherman Street and Heffernan Avenue, Hodge said. The city has been unable to locate the owner and it has become an eyesore of weeds and trash, overtaken by transients and littered with  used drug paraphernalia.

Meanwhile, the council gave final approval to an amended section of the nuisance-abatement ordinance. It clarifies for both city officials and affected property owners what is expected in terms of keeping properties clean. As part of the ordinance, 24 common definitions and examples of ordinance violations were described. The amended ordinance will go into effect 30 days from Feb. 5.

This story is featured in the Feb 13, 2020 e-Edition.

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