Masonic Homes bows out of Mission Hills project

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Blake Bowden, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    UNION CITY — Masonic Homes of California has dropped its plans to develop a 63-acre mixed-use project along Mission Boulevard, representatives for the organization said Friday.

    Although the City Council hadn't yet voted to place a measure on the November ballot, voters were preparing to head to the polls this fall to say whether Masonic Homes should be allowed to build at the base of Mission Hills, in an area where development is restricted.

    Masonic Homes owns a 1.25-mile stretch of property along Mission Boulevard, between Whipple Road and O'Connell Lane, which it has proposed developing. But after a year of public hearings and community meetings, the organization's leaders decided to table the project.

    "The economy has not improved this past year, which, combined with the cumulative costs of impact fees and other suggested accommodations, makes real estate development both challenging and highly speculative at this time. ... For this reason, we have chosen to put the project on hold," John Howl, vice president of strategic development for Masonic Homes, wrote in a letter Friday.

    Over the past year, community members and city leaders have weighed in on the project. Supporters said it could bring some much-needed sales and property tax revenues to the city, as well as community facilities that the developer had proposed.

    But opponents said a mixed-use project consisting of residences and retail stores isn't in line with community desires to preserve open space, and some worried about traffic impacts on Mission and potential landslides, since the development would be situated at the base of the hills.

    Elizabeth Ames, founder of the group Save Our Hills, which opposed the project, said growing opposition from community members may have played a role in Masonic Homes' decision to bow out. The group has several hundred members.

    "We would be happy to work with Masonic Homes and come up with something that would be more compatible with the hillside area. ... We don't want to do the same housing development over and over. That doesn't benefit the community," she said.

    City officials could not be reached for comment Friday about the potential revenue that may have been generated by the project.


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