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First Phase of Newhall Ranch Megadevelopment is a Go

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The first phase of the controversial Newhall Ranch megadevelopment has been given final approval by the LA County Board of Supervisors, which wraps up an approval process that spanned more than a decade and paves the way for a ground breaking in late 2013 or early 2014, the Contra Costa Times reports. Phase one of Newhall Ranch, Landmark Village, will bring 270 single family houses and 1,174 condominiums to the very edge of LA County's developed land, in the Santa Clarita Valley along the Santa Clara River. The development will also include retail centers, parks, and plazas. Construction is expected to take 15 years. Phase two, Mission Village, is also set to receive its final approval in the next month (Newhall includes five "communities").

The Supes gave the development preliminary approval back in October, but this approval is of the final variety. However, Newhall Ranch could still face lawsuits from environmental activists and Native American groups "who argue the project would desecrate Native American burial grounds, damage the Santa Clara River flood plain and destroy a native spineflower habitat." And some locals are still unhappy about the whole thing. Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, tells the CC Times: "With a 29 percent vacancy rate in commercial development and housing, (as well as) 1,800 foreclosures at this moment in Santa Clarita, you really don't have the burden of proof to make these changes."

The project's long and twisted road to approval included a stop in Chapter 11 bankruptcy for original developer LandSource Communities Development back in 2008. Yesterday's hearing addressed the financial viability of Newhall Land, the developer, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, with Newhall Land President Greg McWilliams telling the Supes that the project emerged from bankruptcy with cash in hand: "During the time we were in bankruptcy, we moved forward with development and re-invested about $40 million at the time and have invested (more) in restructuring." Main image via LA Daily News
· Newhall Ranch development gets final approval from L.A. County Board of Supervisors [CC Times]
· Phase 1 of Newhall Ranch gets supervisors’ nod [Santa Clarita Valley Signal]
· County Supes OK First Phase of Newhall Ranch Project [Curbed LA]
· Fresh Round of Legal Action for Sprawling Newhall Ranch [Curbed LA]