| KEYT |
SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Plans are in the works to build a new commercial development on the last remaining empty piece of property within The Crossroads shopping center in Santa Maria.

This week, Westar Associates announced it has officially acquired the high-profile three-acre property, which is located on Betteravia Road next to Popeye’s restaurant.

“Technically we’ve owned the land for quite some time, but there was a long-term ground lease with another developer and we’re just recently able to terminate that lease, come to an agreement with them,” said Jud Dutrisac, Westar Associates Chief Operating Officer. “Now we have control of the development of that land and that just happened last week, so it’s all very fresh and we’re excited to get going with our planning there.”

Dutrisac added he is hoping to build a hotel on the site, as well as potentially other businesses, including restaurants.

“I think it’s really right for a hotel,” said Dutrisac. “That’s our first priority. We like to see that happen and we’re going to work very hard to make that happen if we’re able to do that. There’s e land additionally that can service other commercial uses or restaurants. We will wait to see how that all plays out and how the planning comes together, how much space we have to develop there. Once a hotel is is put into place and we’re just getting just going to go on with our planning on that now.”
Due to its location, the property is zoned with a special designation different from other sites in Santa Maria.

“This is one of the few properties in Santa Maria that’s zoned freeway service and so it’s a property that is for seeing uses that are specifically for the traveling public and as well as the citizens of Santa Maria, so there’s been this property has been in development for many years,” said Frank Albro, Santa Maria Principal Planner. “The freeway service zoning foresees development like hotels, restaurants, service stations, so that sounds like it would be a fit for this property. This property does also have what we call a planned development overlay, which would require any application to go forth to the Planning Commission for approval, looking at the architecture, the design of the site, landscaping, circulation, and so forth.”

Albro added since the property is also located along one of the busiest roadways in Santa Maria, as well as at the important intersection of the Highway 101 on and off ramps, the city would carefully study the traffic impacts of the development.

“We will be asking for a traffic study with the project application that comes in to us,” said Albro. “We’ll be reviewing that traffic study and making any comments on needed improvements that might be reflected in that study.”

Based in Newport Beach, Westar Associates is extremely familiar with the location and the surrounding area, as well as the City of Santa Maria.

For nearly 30 years, the company has planned and/or constructed several other developments in the nearby area, including The Crossroads shopping center, which includes The Home Depot, Walmart, Best Buy, Petsmart, TJ Maxx, and many other businesses.

“We were able to acquire about 150 acres of land west of the 101 and south of the Betteravia, and it started for us with The Crossroads, said Dutrisac. “We still own and manage The Crossroads shopping center. We still own and manage the College Square shopping center down the street with an area on Starbucks drive through there, Crossroads Storage as well. Over the years, as part of our master plan, we’ve sold off different parcels to homebuilders for single family homes, the Grace Baptist Church, among others out there, so it’s really that entire 150 acre area there where we’ve got a master planned and developed that over time.”

Westar said now that land acquisition is complete, it is now just beginning the planning and design phase for this final portion of the project.

“We just we just completed this deal last week,” said Dutrisac “We’re in the very preliminary planning stages of this. Overall it’s probably an 18 to 24 month time frame when you look at the planning and the permitting and the construction that’s involved in all of that, we’ve had a great relationship with the city of Santa Maria, city officials and planning staff, etc. We’ll be we’ll be getting with them soon once we kind of get all of our ducks in a row to spend some time with them, but our mind is going a million miles an hour now. We got to get some things done on the paper and get the process kicked off.”

The company did not disclose what specific businesses, either hotel companies or restaurants, who might be located at the site once construction is complete.

– KEYT | Dave Alley

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