A 20.37-acre, mixed-use commercial and residential development was approved by Highland City Council on Tuesday, June 8, for the west end of the Greenspot Village and Marketplace Specific Plan within the “Golden Triangle,” the long-undeveloped land on the north side of Greenspot Road just east of State Route 210.

The design review application, conditional use permit, tentative parcel maps, signage program and alcohol licenses were approved for the development to be built by TREH Partners, developers and owners of the Lowe’s shopping center on the south side of Greenspot.

While the Planning Commission recommended the development for city council approval following its review of the plans on May 18, TREH Partners requested that two of the specific plan’s conditions of approval, relating to the funding of a firefighter for ladder truck service, be removed.

Community Development Director Lawrence Mainez reported to the council that the two conditions are triggered by the development’s inclusion of multiple three-story buildings and were designed to work together to ensure Highland has ladder truck fire service.

They stipulate that, should San Manuel Fire Department terminate its service agreement to provide the city of Highland with ladder truck service, the developer would be required to pay $550,000 annually for the services of one additional firefighter that will be needed for the city’s fire department to purchase and run its own ladder truck. These annual payments would be made until taxes and other fees generated by the development are enough to sustainably fund the additional firefighter.

Mainez emphasized that San Manuel’s termination of the service agreement is extremely unlikely and represents a highly unlikely risk.

Tom Robinson of TREH Partners shared that the conditions’ imposing of a $550,000 annual payment on the developer will make financing the project extremely difficult.

“Even if I wanted to say, ‘Yes,’ to the $550,000 my lender will tell me, ‘No,’” Robinson said. “Even if it’s never going to happen, that San Manuel’s never going away, if I have this condition they say, ‘There’s $550,000 off the net operating income,’ and they have to do that. It’s debt service coverage.”

“We ask that you remove those conditions. You have the power to keep your agreement with San Manuel,” Robinson said. “[Those conditions] devastate the project.”

Robinson added that the only other option would be to redesign the residential project with only two-story buildings, which would mean removing amenities, shrinking unit sizes and reducing open space. Robinson said he resists this option because TREH aims to build quality housing.

During city council deliberation, the council members (minus Jesse Chavez who was absent) expressed confidence in the city’s partnership with San Manuel and the extreme unlikelihood that the ladder truck service agreement would be terminated.

“I agree it’s highly unlikely as we do have pretty good working relations with San Manuel,” Councilman John Timmer said. “However, if, for whatever reason, we cancel it, we, as a city, are going to have to make significant decisions on service reductions because we will have to provide a ladder truck. We have to be aware of that, even if it is highly unlikely.”

Timmer then motioned that the conditions be removed and the Greenspot Crossings development be approved. Mayor Pro Tem Larry McCallon seconded, and the vote was passed unanimously.

The development is the second to be approved for the Greenspot specific plan, which was completed and approved by the city in 2013 to facilitate quality mixed-use development within the 104-acre “Golden Triangle.” The first, a 200-unit town home development by Rexco, was approved by the city in September 2020 and has begun grading activities on the southeast corner of the specific plan area.

TREH’s development, Greenspot Crossings, includes two planning areas ⎯ an 11.021-acre commercial development at the northeast corner of Greenspot and SR-210 and a 8.793-acre residential development northeast of the shopping center.

The commercial portion is comprised of approximately 85,316 square feet of commercial building space, including: a 11,877-square-foot, eight-pump gas station with convenience store and car wash; a 37,000-square-foot anchor store; a 19,000-square-foot major store; a 6,000-square-foot store; a 5,600-square-foot store; three 2,500-to-3,000-square-foot stores with drive-through; a 2,024-square-foot store; and a total of 362 parking stalls. There will also be two outdoor plazas suitable for outdoor dining.

The residential complex will include four types of residences totaling 200 units. The plan has 14 multi-family buildings, a stand-alone clubhouse and fitness center, a swimming pool, a wading pool, an outdoor kids zone with artificial turf, a dog park, a basketball half-court, a pickleball court and 380 parking spaces (including attached garages and 142 open spaces). The residential buildings will include attached two-story single-family town homes, two-story multi-family condominiums, two-story studios and three-story multi-family apartment buildings.

According to Robinson, TREH plans to build the commercial and residential projects concurrently, and he expects construction to begin in 2022.

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