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Economic Development Strategy and Work Plan

Marketing/Public Relations


Orange is one of the best examples of a well-balanced municipality in Southern California. The City enjoys a true "downtown" with the distinction of being the largest historical district in the State, a large industrial base with hundreds of industrial residents, two regional shopping centers and a safe environment conducive to business and residential uses. The City of Orange offers housing opportunities ranging from affordable senior citizen apartments to luxury single-family homes. Even with these advantages, the City faces many challenges including limited vacant land resources, increasing competition from adjacent cities, and areas which are beginning to show signs of obsolescence due to age and deterioration.

Guidelines for the Future
The purpose of this Economic Development Strategy ("Strategy") is to develop guidelines for economic development and housing activities. The Strategy is designed to provide a framework for proactive programs to enhance the business climate and improve housing stock while providing the City and the Orange Redevelopment Agency with the flexibility to adapt to changes in markets and development priorities.

The Strategy identifies eight "Opportunity Areas" and outlines potential activities for each area. Additionally, the Strategy outlines efforts for addressing housing needs and business attraction and retention efforts throughout the City.

The Strategy is intended to remain respectful of private property rights and recognizes that the outlined activities can only be accomplished with the cooperation of the business and development community. Also, the Strategy is intended to be flexible and is not intended to prevent the City from taking advantage of business opportunities which may arise outside the scope of the Strategy.

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I. Development Opportunities

A. Specific Opportunity Areas
B. Housing City-Wide
C. City-Wide Programs

II. Reporting/Administration

Administration of the Economic Development Department includes the management of Department personnel, coordination with other City departments and compliance with state, county and local laws.

III. Financial Analysis

A vital function of the Economic Development Department is collecting, reviewing and analyzing economic information.

IV. Marketing/Public Relations

A major responsibility of the Department is marketing the City to audiences inside and outside of the City and to disseminate information about the Department’s activities.

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    Development Opportunities - Specific Opportunity Areas

The Department has identified eight "Opportunity Areas" listed below. The following sections of the Strategy will discuss each area and outline the suggested action plan:

  1. Katella Corridor
  2. Tustin Street
  3. South Main Street
  4. West Chapman Corridor
  5. Old Towne
  6. Town and Country
  7. The City/State College
  8. East Chapman Corridor

Katella Corridor - Northwest Redevelopment Project Area

Introduction and Location
The corridor is bounded by the City of Anaheim and the Santa Ana River on the west, and Glassell Street to the east. The corridor encompasses approximately 150 acres.

Zoning and Land Use
The Katella Corridor is zoned CR (Commercial/Recreation) which provides for a wide range of commercial, entertainment and recreational uses. The area is currently developed with multi-tenant industrial, office and entertainment uses. The area is generally fully developed with the exception of one eight-acre vacant parcel at the southeast corner of Main Street and Katella Avenue.

Opportunities and Constraints
The Katella Corridor benefits from its proximity to the Orange (57) Freeway corridor, Anaheim Stadium and The Pond. The western portion of the study area has the potential for capturing additional hospitality and entertainment uses to complement the proposed Sports Town in Anaheim and the Syufy/Century Theatre development in Orange. The primary development constraint is the ability to consolidate parcels of sufficient size at a reasonable price to attract new development and uses to the area.

Katella Corridor Strategy

  • Site Consolidation. Investigate the potential of consolidating development sites on the south side of Katella Avenue, west of Main Street and on the west side of Batavia Street near Katella Avenue.
  • Entryway Sign/Feature. Construct a major entryway at the western City boundary on Katella that will identify Orange and help set the tone and design for the area.
  • Hospitality Development. Initiate efforts to define the market potential for hotel development and attempt to identify an appropriate site.
  • Urban Design. Develop an urban design plan beginning at the westerly City limit to extend the landscape and hardscape design aspects of the Syufy/Century Theatre development throughout the corridor.
  • Regional Commercial Uses. Identify uses and sites to develop destination uses in the Corridor. Examples may include automotive retail uses, hospitality and entertainment uses, specialty retail, sports clubs and dinner houses.
  • Infrastructure. Assist in the needed development of infrastructure, i.e. storm drains, signalization and undergrounding of utilities in future projects.

Tustin Street - Tustin Street Redevelopment Project Area

Introduction and Location
This Opportunity Area extends from the City’s northern boundary north of Lincoln Avenue to the City’s southern boundary at Fairhaven Avenue just south of the Garden Grove (22) Freeway. It includes all of the commercial properties along Tustin Street and its major intersections at Chapman, Collins, Katella and Meats Avenues.

Zoning and Land Use
The Tustin Street Area is predominantly zoned for commercial use. The area is developed with a full range of regional, neighborhood and highway commercial uses ranging from convenience goods to a regional shopping center.

Opportunities and Constraints
The Tustin Street area benefits from its proximity to and visibility from the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway and serves as the most diverse retailing corridor in North Orange County. Many of the shopping centers in the corridor have already been rehabilitated with assistance from the Redevelopment Agency; however, there are still opportunities for expanding and intensifying commercial development at the intersections of Tustin Street and Chapman and Katella Avenues. Additionally, the southern portions of the Tustin Street area offer opportunities for new commercial development on vacant and underutilized sites.

The primary constraints to development are the difficulty in economically consolidating the properties required for new developments and identifying new regionally based retailers to locate in the area. There appears to be an abundance of neighborhood commercial uses.

Tustin Street Strategy

  • Mall of Orange. Assist and support efforts to upgrade this key retail location.
  • Entryway Sign/Feature. Construct a major entry at the northern and southern City limits on Tustin Street that would identify arrival in Orange.
  • Marketing Program. Develop a Tustin Street marketing program that would help coordinate advertising programs and promote the area as the location for any retail need.
  • Northeast Corner of Chapman and Tustin Street. Encourage the expansion of the existing retail development to the freeway off-ramp and the elimination of sub-standard and underutilized improvements.
  • Auto Dealers and Existing Retailers. Improve communications with key businesses to determine the need for Redevelopment Agency assistance and intervention to encourage retailers to remain and expand in Orange.
  • Site Consolidation. Identify underutilized sites on Tustin Street and determine feasibility for consolidation and redevelopment to accommodate enhanced office or retail uses. Encourage and promote development of on-site circulation systems between businesses, and joint access/parking agreements to reduce the number of driveway openings onto Tustin Street.
  • Southwest Corner of Yorba and Chapman. Continue subsurface soil investigation to determine suitability of site for redevelopment.

South Main Street - Southwest Redevelopment Project Area

Introduction and Location
The South Main Street Opportunity Area is bounded by Chapman Avenue on the north and the Garden Grove Freeway on the south.

Zoning and Land Use
The area is zoned for office and commercial development. It is nearly fully developed with various highway commercial, retail and office uses. It is generally bordered on both the east and west by residential development.

Opportunities and Constraints
The South Main Street area has a great diversity of uses ranging from neighborhood commercial to high rise office and medical. The strength of South Main Street lies in its proximity to the Garden Grove (22) Freeway; its access to regional commercial areas in Santa Ana; and the medical facilities consisting of Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), St. Joseph Hospital and several clinics. Opportunities for future growth exist in recycling the highway commercial properties along South Main Street, which are generally older and obsolete. The primary constraints include insufficient right-of-way to widen Main Street, irregular parcelization and shallow lot depths.

South Main Street Strategy

  • Neighborhood Commercial Uses. Identify appropriate sites, including existing centers, which could accommodate enhanced retail and other revenue-generating commercial uses within strip commercial areas.
  • Northwest Corner of Main Street and La Veta Avenue. Redevelop this site. Utilize Agency owned property to spur development. Recruit possible developers.
  • Ford Dealership Site. Relocate Ford of Orange to an acceptable site in the City in order to mitigate effects of street widening. Obtain car dealership for site on Main Street or recycle to new retail use. This may involve consolidation with adjacent properties.
  • Site Consolidation. In conjunction with the street widening program and publicly owned property, encourage parcel consolidation and redevelopment.
  • Southwest Design Standards. Support revisions to the Southwest Design Guidelines that reflect current city policy and financial considerations.
  • Transportation System. Assist in the development of a strategy for, and actively promote a light rail transit system along the La Veta Avenue/Main Street alignment.

West Chapman Corridor - Southwest Redevelopment Project Area

Introduction and Location
The West Chapman Corridor is generally bounded by the Santa Ana River on the west and downtown Orange on the east.

Zoning and Land Use
The West Chapman Corridor is zoned C-2 and contains a diversified base of neighborhood commercial and highway commercial uses. The area has a concentration of auto oriented uses located to the east of Main Street.

Opportunities and Constraints
The West Chapman Corridor has a wide range and quality of uses. There are significant opportunities to improve and rehabilitate aging buildings. There appears to be an excess of neighborhood commercial space as indicated by building vacancies. Redevelopment is hindered by small parcels shallow in depth.

The evidence of underutilized properties throughout the West Chapman Corridor indicates that the integration of office or residential uses should be considered at this time.

West Chapman Corridor Strategy

  • Site Consolidation. Identify appropriate sites which could be consolidated to accommodate modern day office, residential and enhanced neighborhood retail uses.
  • Residential Development. Consider changes in use for parcels with a history of lengthy vacancy periods that could accommodate multi-family residential development compatible with adjacent uses.
  • Southwest Design Standards. Support revisions to the Southwest Design Guidelines that reflect current city policy and financial considerations.
  • Transitional Area. Encourage facade and signage improvements throughout the area to strengthen the transition into downtown. Survey property owners to determine kinds of incentives that would work.

Old Towne - Southwest Redevelopment Project Area

Introduction and Location
The Old Towne Plaza area is generally considered to be the one square mile area bounded by Batavia Street on the west, Walnut Avenue on the north, Cambridge Street on the east and La Veta Avenue on the south. The center of Old Towne is the "Plaza", the intersection of Glassell Street and Chapman Avenue.

Zoning and Land Use
The Old Towne area is zoned for commercial, office and residential uses and contains a wide range of institutional and non-profit uses, banks, offices, restaurants and retail. The area has a concentration of antique stores and is well known as the location of Chapman University.

Opportunities and Constraints
Old Towne benefits from its historic character and distinctive physical layout surrounding the central Plaza Park. Many buildings date back to the late 1800’s. The area is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is the largest such historical district in the State.

The major constraint is the perceived lack of parking and the existing parking requirements for new businesses. Redevelopment is also hindered by small parcels, a high percentage of institutional owners, and a lack of diversity of use. The cost to renovate an historic structure is often a constraint to buyers and tenants considering Old Towne. Generally, it is believed that the area needs to diversify its business mix.

Old Towne Strategy

  • Diversify Business Mix. Market the area to businesses and property owners, which can help to diversify the business mix and increase revenue.
  • Parcel Consolidation. Identify and market appropriate sites that could be consolidated to accommodate larger retail uses.
  • Parking. Participate in the creation of a comprehensive parking program, and explore options to fund future parking improvements which may include the installation of parking meters, construction of parking structure(s), and establishment of "in lieu" fees for users with inadequate parking.
  • Retail Uses. Encourage office and residential uses to accommodate upper levels, leaving the first floor of commercial buildings for street level retail in order to increase the retail uses found in the area.
  • Santa Fe Depot. Support business development that serves to implement the Santa Fe Depot Specific Plan. Link the Depot area to the Plaza with a pedestrian corridor that is well lighted and landscaped.
  • Urban Design. Investigate appropriate suggestions of the Plaza Design Collaborative* and attempt to implement those that will contribute to the improvement of the area.
  • Business Improvement District. Support Old Towne property owners in their efforts to establish a business improvement district in Old Towne.
  • Revenue Generating Uses. Encourage revenue-generating uses on properties owned by not-for-profit entities.
  • City/Agency Owned Property. Utilize public areas for outdoor seating, kiosk and general retail purposes. Support development of standards for outdoor dining compatible with development patterns and public use requirements.

* The Plaza Design Collaborative is a volunteer group of architects and planners who have developed a "Vision Plan" for preserving and enhancing the historic Plaza District.

Town and Country - Southwest Redevelopment Project Area

Introduction and Location
The Town and Country area is bounded on the north by the Garden Grove (22) Freeway, on the west by Main Place Shopping Center, on the south by the Orange City limits, and on the east by Lawson Way.

Zoning and Land Use
The area is zoned C-2 and C-3, which provides for a wide range of commercial, office, and higher density residential uses. The area is predominately developed with one-story garden style commercial and office buildings, with the exception of a 16-story office tower located at the southwest corner of Town and Country and Lawson.

Opportunities and Constraints
The Town and Country area benefits from its proximity to Main Place Shopping Center, as well as its visibility from and access to the Garden Grove (22) Freeway. A majority of the area is also under one ownership. It is located directly north of a large undeveloped parcel in the City of Santa Ana. This is one of the few areas throughout the City that can accommodate high intensity development without impacting surrounding land uses. Primary constraints relate to the cost of development, the feasibility of a mixed use development in this highly competitive market area, and traffic flows resulting from high intensity development.

Town and Country Strategy

  • Mixed-Use Development. Work with area property owners to investigate the feasibility of a mixed use "urban village" consisting of commercial, office, hotel, and higher density residential uses.
  • Development Coordination. Coordinate development activity with the City of Santa Ana.
  • Transportation System. Develop transportation infrastructure to accommodate more intense uses, including the potential for a light rail transit system on Main Street.

The City/State College - Southwest Redevelopment Project Area

Introduction and Location
This Opportunity Area includes that portion of the City generally lying west of the Orange (57) Freeway. It includes The City shopping/office complex and properties on both sides of State College Boulevard north from the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway.

Zoning and Land Use
The City/State College area is zoned C-1, C-2, and M-1, which allows for a number of commercial, office, and manufacturing related uses. Existing land use in The City complex is characterized by a vacant regional shopping center, several office towers, the Doubletree Hotel, and residential apartments. The area north from the Santa Ana Freeway is characterized by the Cinedome movie theater complex, the Orange Drive-In property, the Koll Center and smaller properties along State College and Anaheim Boulevards.

Opportunities and Constraints
The Mills Corporation has commenced development of The City Mills at Orange, an 811,000 square foot open-air, regional retail and entertainment complex. The project will serve as a catalyst for further redevelopment and economic development activity in this area.

Construction of improvements along the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway through the City of Orange is scheduled to begin in late 1997. When completed in the year 2000, the freeway will be widened, State College Boulevard will pass underneath the freeway, and Chapman Avenue will be completely realigned. These improvements will include State College Boulevard having access onto and egress from the freeway in all directions.

The Orange Drive-In property, while benefiting from the full interchange with State College Boulevard and the Santa Ana Freeway, is losing approximately five acres to the freeway improvements and is situated both in the City of Orange and the City of Anaheim. Redevelopment of this parcel will require coordination between the two cities.

The City/State College Strategy

  • Cinedome and Orange Drive-In Sites. Initiate discussions and actively participate with property owners for the redevelopment of these important sites. Coordinate redevelopment of the Orange Drive-In property with the City of Anaheim.
  • Frontage Parcels on State College/Anaheim Boulevard. Actively participate with property owners and Cal Trans for the redevelopment of these landlocked parcels.
  • Office Development/Doubletree Hotel at The City. Initiate discussions and actively participate with property owners and tenants to maximize development potential arising from their proximity to City Mills at Orange, including the construction of a second tower for the Doubletree Hotel.
  • The City Mills at Orange. Work with The Mills Corporation to facilitate an expeditious lease up of quality tenants.
  • Transportation System. Assist in the development of a strategy for, and actively promote a light rail transit system in the State College Boulevard/City Drive/La Veta Avenue corridor.

East Chapman Corridor (Not located in a Project Area)

Introduction and location
The East Chapman Corridor is located east of the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway between Yorba Street and Rancho Santiago Boulevard.

Zoning and Land Use
The area is generally zoned for commercial uses and the land use within the area consists of office, neighborhood retail and highway commercial uses.

Opportunities and Constraints
The East Chapman Corridor benefits from its proximity to the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway and the fact that Chapman Avenue is a primary arterial highway providing access to large residential and commercial areas. The primary opportunity is to enhance the already satisfactory commercial base through property consolidation and rehabilitation. There is an unincorporated area under the County’s jurisdiction which requires special consideration.

East Chapman Corridor Strategy

  • Redevelopment Project Area Feasibility Analysis. Examine the feasibility of establishing East Chapman Avenue as a new redevelopment project area or adding the territory to the Tustin Street Redevelopment Project Area.
  • Urban Design. Develop an Urban Design Plan to coordinate the landscape for the entire area as the area upgrades and recycles.
  • Transportation and Circulation. Encourage and promote development of on-site circulation systems between businesses, and joint access/parking agreements to reduce the number of driveway openings onto Chapman Avenue.

City-Wide Housing

The Economic Development Department is charged with increasing and preserving the community’s supply of affordable low and moderate income housing to comply with state and federal requirements. This goal is addressed by providing financial and development incentives to existing and potential multi-family housing owner-investors and developers, and owner-occupants of single-family and mobile homes.

Opportunities and Constraints
Housing can have a profound impact on business development because businesses wishing to expand or relocate in the City often consider the availability of affordable employee housing. Renovation of existing deteriorated housing has a positive impact on surrounding areas. The renovation of the Villa Santiago Apartments influenced Albertson’s decision to remodel and reopen its nearby market location. Currently, a number of other opportunities exist to improve the community while stimulating the economy. These "Special Interest Areas" are shown on the Housing Opportunity map.

The primary constraint to both the development of affordable housing and the continued renovation of deteriorated housing is inadequate funding. A secondary constraint is ownership of adjacent multi-family parcels by different owners. Older, deteriorated multi-family housing areas have the greatest need. Portions of neighborhoods found west of the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway are prime examples of areas in need of revitalization.

City-Wide Housing Action Plan

  • Multi-Family Neighborhood Revitalization. Develop strategies to improve multi-family neighborhoods including the Tustin Street/Costa Mesa (55) Freeway, Cypress Street, and Walnut Avenue areas.
  • Site Development. Work with developers to identify sites for new housing with particular emphasis on family projects. Determine the feasibility of developing housing on City-owned sites.
  • Housing and Commercial Development. Encourage development of housing for all income groups to spur adjacent commercial development.
  • Employee Housing. Encourage projects that will provide affordable housing for employees of Orange businesses.
  • Neighborhood Enhancement Team (NET). Participate in the City’s NET Program by providing appropriate resources. The purpose of the NET is to improve the overall appearance and quality of life in Orange. Comprised of staff from the City Police, Fire and Community Development Departments, and the County Health and Sanitation Departments, the NET conducts inspections to target Building, Health, Housing, and Fire code violations.
  • Single-Family Neighborhood Improvement. Implement a new marketing strategy to encourage participation in the federally-funded Home Improvement Program.

City-Wide Programs


City-wide programs are designed to establish a friendly, professional environment to attract and retain business and to improve communication channels with both commercial tenants and property owners. Programs available City-wide need to be flexible and have the ability to adapt quickly to opportunities to retain important revenue generating businesses located in the community.

  • Development Facilitation. Act as the facilitator for business interests and activities, and participate in securing entitlements, encouraging program environmental impact reports and tailoring planning and zoning requirements to meet the needs of business.
  • Incentive Programs. Evaluate the feasibility of incentive programs to encourage business-to-business sales and retail sales in non-traditional areas.

Action Plan

  • Intergovernmental/Utility Coordination. Facilitate contacts with governmental and utility entities in the community. Examples include the County Sanitation District, community colleges, Southern California Edison and the Gas Company. Promote outside economic incentives that can benefit Orange businesses. Facilitate the permit process.
  • Land Use Analysis. Continuously monitor land uses by business type ranging from entertainment to industrial uses to help identify City-wide growth opportunities and target markets.
  • Business Visitation Program. Maintain communications with the business community. Contact 250 businesses each year for the purpose of identifying means that the City may be of service to the business community. This program would include major revenue generators and large employers.
  • Property Owner Contacts. Economic development requires close work with property owners, and the department needs to establish communications with all major property owners.
  • Tenant Solicitation. Contact major tenants that have announced expansion programs to determine if there is an opportunity to locate them in the City.
  • CDBG Funds. Utilize CDBG funding wherever possible to help fund economic development activities.

Reporting and Administration

Administration of the Economic Development Department includes the management of Department personnel, coordination with other City departments and compliance with state, county and local laws. Predominately, the Department administers all contracts and agreements entered into by the Department and Redevelopment Agency. Each year the Department undertakes the following:

  1. Write, distribute and obtain Board approval of Orange Redevelopment Agency Annual Report.
  2. Prepare monthly progress reports for City Manager and Council.
  3. Prepare quarterly reports for City Manager and Council.
  4. Perform annual compliance audit on all department projects.
  5. Prepare State Controller Report annually.
  6. Attend every Staff Review Committee meeting.
  7. Attend every Council and Agency Board meeting.
  8. Prepare annual Department budget.
  9. Prepare annual written evaluations of every staff member.
  10. Analyze legislation that may impact Department activities.

Financial Analysis

Collecting, reviewing and analyzing economic information is a vital function of the Economic Development Department. Specifically, the following are typically undertaken quarterly:

  1. Review sales taxes, property taxes, transient occupancy taxes and business license fees.

1. Identify any significant decreases or increases by revenue category and business sector.

2. Ascertain reasons for changes and what can be done to mitigate any problem.

  1. Review property tax appeals; identify problem areas; and develop plan for assisting County so that reassessments are not unreasonably low.

  2. Review operational budget to ensure Departmental expenses are in line with annual budget.

  3. Analyze tax increment revenue, miscellaneous revenue, debt service, pass throughs, housing set-asides and Certificate of Participation payments. Make adjustments as necessary to balance each fund and plan for projected shortfalls.

Marketing/Public Relations

A major responsibility of the Department is marketing the City to audiences inside and outside the City not only to improve the image and marketability of the City but also to disseminate information on the Department’s activities. Each year the Department will:

  1. Develop and maintain an active presence in appropriate community and business organizations.
  2. Create a communications strategy to highlight economic development achievements among Orange residents.
  3. Generate stories in appropriate publications.
  4. Create and implement a Business Relations Enhancement Program to strengthen City staff’s skills in providing service to the business community.
  5. Update Orange entries in tourism related publications on an annual basis.
  6. Offer speakers’ bureau on economic development/redevelopment issues to various community groups.
  7. Keep City employees informed of recent happenings in the business community and how business impacts City revenues.
  8. Conduct redevelopment workshops for the public.
  9. Continue issuance of film permits and attempt to increase film production gaining visibility and recognition for the community and its businesses.

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