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April 10, 2015
North Shore back in Oxnard, with new name and new developer
By Gretchen Wenner, Ventura County Star
April 3, 2015

OXNARD, Calif. - There has been hazardous waste, foreclosure, and rebirth of a plant once considered extinct.

Now, a coastal lot in Oxnard that has sat vacant for decades is seeing the revival of previously approved plans for a residential development.
The 292-unit project at the northeast corner of Harbor Boulevard and Fifth Street, formerly known as North Shore at Mandalay Bay, is back. The tract was one of many efforts sidelined after the housing bubble burst in 2007 and the Great Recession followed.

It’s now called Beachwalk on the Mandalay Coast and is moving forward with Irvine-based developer SunCal.

"For over 35 years, the site has been a vacant eyesore," said SunCal spokesman Joe Aguirre in an email. "It will now be revitalized as a master-planned community that will feature new homes, new public parks, preserved open space and trails."

An update on the project is scheduled for a public meeting of the Oxnard Shores neighborhood council. The session runs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Yacht Club of Channel Islands, 4308 Tradewinds Drive, and will feature two SunCal officials.

SunCal is currently importing soil to bring the 90-acre site closer to its final grading level. In coming months, work on roadway and utility upgrades around the perimeter will begin, followed by construction of on-site infrastructure. Overall plans include restoring 30 acres as native coastal dune scrub habitat.

"Our plan is to have prepared home lots available for sale to homebuilders sometime in the second quarter of 2016," Aguirre said.

Renderings aren’t yet available, and Aguirre said price range for the homes isn’t yet known.

SunCal, a privately held company started more than 80 years ago, previously developed the Westport at Mandalay Bay waterfront community in Oxnard.

In late 2013, the firm bought the bank-owned North Shore site for $32.25 million, according to documents filed with the Ventura County Recorder’s office. A previous developer, Trimark Pacific Mandalay Bay LLC, was $63.8 million in arrears on a construction loan when the property was repossessed at a foreclosure auction in 2009.

The land had been used as an oil field waste disposal facility from 1954 to 1981, and been the site of oil and gas production before 1954, according to state regulators. Hazardous waste cleanup overseen by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control was finished in 2008.

Oxnard officials approved an environmental report for the housing project in 1999, and other entitlements came in subsequent years.

Along the way, a plant thought to be extinct, the Ventura marsh milkvetch, was found on the property. The discovery led to legal challenges from the Channel Islands chapter of the California Native Plant Society and other groups, with a settlement ultimately worked out to establish an on-site preserve for the species.

Chris Williamson, a principal planner for Oxnard, said the Beachwalk project has been entitled for some time.

"It’s been around for well over 10 years," he said, and already has all its planning permits and a final map lined up. Building permits are pulled close to when home construction begins.

The developers are trying to work out plans for a pedestrian bridge over Harbor Boulevard to the beach side of the road, Williamson said. The project sits across the street from Mandalay State Beach, an undeveloped dune area operated by Ventura County and sometimes called Mandalay County Park. Ideas could include a boardwalk through the park to the beach, he said.

Aguirre, the SunCal spokesman, confirmed the firm is exploring the possibility of a pedestrian bridge with city and state park officials.

Julie Peña, chair of the Oxnard Shores neighborhood council, says residents are eager to learn about what’s going on with the project. Most understand the development has already been approved, but they still have questions about water sources, dirt hauling and road-widening efforts, she said. Saturday’s meeting was initiated by SunCal, she added.

"We are all interested in hearing their timeline," Peña said.