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Investment entrepreneur Michael Schwartz of Ladera Ranch has gotten county approval to build a $32.6 million athletic complex on a now-vacant plot of land he bought in 2010.
Schwartz, owner of Smart Stop Self Storage and Strategic Storage Trust Inc, plans to build the 119,000-square-foot, four-story Ladera Athletic Complex on 3.57 acres of land on Terrace Road, adjacent to Schwartz's 100,000-square-foot Smart Storage facility, he said.
The complex will include a 41,400-square-foot storage facility with 255 storage units, more than 21,000 square feet of office space for Smart Stop's expanding headquarters and a 56,800-square-foot gymnasium with eight basketball and volleyball courts.
The Orange County Planning Commission gave the project its approval July 24.
"It's not a small endeavor, but we really believe in the community," Schwartz said. "The mixed-use financially makes sense. We can build the nicest indoor gymnasium in the U.S., and we need to expand storage space and offices for our growing operations."
Planning Commissioner Jett McCormick of Ladera Ranch was one of four who voted in favor of the project. Planning Commissioner Anthony Nguyen did not attend the meeting
"It will be a great asset to the community," McCormick said. "The developer has identified an under-served need in the community."
The Ladera Ranch Civic Council, a recommending agency, was split in a vote about the project at its July 21 meeting. Council members Robyn Moore Hubbard and Scott Weisgerber supported the project but Todd Stearns and Gary Kephart said they hadn't had time to review the project and gather resident input. Jeff Hamilton and McCormick, also an LRCC council member, abstained from voting.
"It sounds great but I don't feel comfortable to move forward at this point," Stearns said.
The project will architecturally stand out among Ladera Ranch businesses with its glass and colored metal wall panel design, Schwartz said. The complex will feature cameras on each basketball and volleyball court so parents or sport scouts can log in remotely to watch games or practices, he said. The building will also have solar panels on the roof, he said.
Anyone will be able to rent the athletic center, such as the players and club teams of the National Junior Basketball League in Ladera Ranch, Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita, Schwartz said. And he hopes high school teams will use it as well.
Schwartz aims to break ground in spring of 2015 and to have the building completed by the end of that year, he said.