Moorpark may just get its first hotel as retailers continue to leave

By Debra Tash

At their January 21, 2015 meeting, the Moorpark City Council considered a modification to a long standing, previously approved, hotel project.  The developer, Moorpark Hospitality, Inc. Peter Bhakta, was requesting an update in the floor plan and exterior to bring the development in line with the current Marriott Fairfield design standards.   The hotel, originally approved for 112 rooms, would have that number brought down to 108 and the spa would be eliminated.  The developer was also requesting that the entitlement’s expiration date be extended.  The hotel will be built on a 2.38 acre parcel located at 14350 White Sage Road.

Hotel Site Plan and Front Elevation

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The original proposal was approved on May 2nd 2007 by the Council at that time.  The builder had to go through several plan checks.  By the time the construction plans were approved the 2008 crash had occurred and the builder couldn’t get financing.  Now Moorpark Hospitality hopes to break ground in April and be open for business a year from that date.

Mayor Parvin was concerned about birds, an issue that seems to bedevil the cities at the east end of the county.  The Mayor has seen birds roosting on the roof of the Simi Valley Marriott off Madera Road.  She was also concerned about security and hotel guests wandering to a nearby business that deals with government contracts.

Councilmember Roseann Mikos complained about one side of the hotel being barren and not all that interesting to look at.

City Manager Steve Kueny advised the Council that language to improve the west and south elevations will be added to the permit. Parvin reminded him not to forget about the birds.

The Council voted unanimously in favor of approval of the changes.  Mikos remarked, “We certainly need it.”

Yes, they do.

The next major item to be heard was a Report on Economic Development Activities.

City Hall has an outreach to encourage economic growth.  They hold face to face meetings with businesses in the community and try to address their concerns. One of those concerns was internet speed.  The city dealt with it by getting another provider in the area.  They have also increased parking on Condor Dr. to accommodate PennyMac, the City’s largest employer.  There’s been an attempt to increase shopping center visibility, but that has had little effect.

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Dropping number of businesses

There is also a push for business expansion. Enegren, the microbrew start-up, is growing. Tom Lindstrom RV may purchase one of the City’s Redevelopment properties along Los Angeles Ave.

But what can’t be changed is what the department is hearing over and over again: Lack of Sales.  With the closings of Albertson’s, Do-It, Staples, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Big Lots, and other smaller stores, Moorpark is becoming a commercial graveyard.  The worst hit is the Mission Bell Center.  The cavernous space that had been the K-Mart store is somewhat of a retail dinosaur, with too much square footage.

It took intervention to keep Ralphs from closing its doors. For a supermarket to be viable there must be at least 15,000 residents per store.  The City had to help with negotiations when the lease came up for renewal to prevent Kroger from pulling the plug.

The hard fact–commercial development is overbuilt in Moorpark.  The City can boost of one the highest median incomes in the County.  But communities like Simi Valley have three times the daytime population.

It’s going to be a tough road for Moorpark, with Home Depot giving the final thumbs down to developing there.  The hardware giant is trying to sublease their site now.  With shopping moving to the internet, and trade areas in other cities around the County already well established, the new hotel may end up being a plus.  Businesses complained that Moorpark had nowhere for their associates to stay.  Until the population grows and more businesses move in, the city may be more ghost town than prosperous suburb.

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Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.

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