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Conference center planned

Posted: August 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita City Council members unanimously agreed Tuesday night to commission a master plan for a conference center in the city.

Noting such a center has been considered in Santa Clarita since at least 2009, Jason Crawford, the city’s marketing and economic development manager, said the firm selected to draw up the master plan would survey local businesses and other interested parties, select a site, price it and determine “specifically what other cities have done to create a public/private partnership” to realize such a conference center.

The scope of the study would be citywide, he said in answer to a question from Councilman TimBen Boydston, who said a previous study “seemed like it was tailored for a specific space.”

A feasibility study concluded in 2010 determined there was “sufficient demand for a 40,000-60,000-square-foot facility that could be designed to meet the needs of the local community and regional business demand,” according to the council agenda report.

The city aggressively courts the types of events that might use a conference center, Crawford told council members. But sometimes Santa Clarita winds up losing out on hosting such events because it lacks a facility large enough to accommodate those who would be drawn to them.

“Tourism partners believe that with increased space, which is currently limited to Hyatt Regency, Embassy Suites and the city’s Activities Center, Santa Clarita would attract more conferences, conventions and revenue-gathering tourism events, yielding increased sales tax generation,” the report says.

One of the lingering questions, however, has been where to locate such a facility.

At one point in the city’s long-term planning history, before it was determined to be munitions-plant brownfield, the Whittaker Bermite site south of Soledad Canyon Road and east of Bouquet Canyon Road was thought an ideal location for a conference or convention center.

The company selected by the City Council to draw up the master plan was Kosmont Companies, which agreed to the project at a price tag of $75,000.

The Southern California firm had worked previously with the Santa Clarita Redevelopment Agency, has successfully gotten projects funded during the economic downturn and has a working relationship with subcontractors involved in similar projects, the report said.


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