Highland Denying Elssmann Approval On His Breakthrough Project

(June 6) The Highland City Council last week turned back politician-turned-developer Glenn Elssmann in his effort to achieve a breakthrough project success, at least temporarily stymieing his effort to obtain entitlement to construct a shopping center and accompanying 800-unit residential unit complex along Greenspot Road east of Highway 210.
Elssmann has been going eyeball-to-eyeball with Highland planning division employees and city council members for months. His proposal is to strengthen Highland’s sales tax base by putting a shopping center into what the city refers to as its Golden Triangle, on Greenspot Road across from the existing Highland Crossings Shopping Center. Elssmann says he will bring in tenants to the center he is contemplating that will be every bit as good as the Highland Crossings’ anchor, Lowes Hardware and Garden Center. Simultaneously, he proposes to develop a three-story apartment complex north of the shopping center, providing the center with a ready store of customers.
Having dubbed his energetic development proposal the Greenspot Marketplace and Village, Elssmann has been seeking to forge an arrangement by which the corporate entity that will undertake the project, Mission Development, will provide the city with infrastructure to offset the impact of the development on the city’s ability to provide basic services. In this case, Elssmann has said he is amenable to purchasing a ladder truck for the fire department that will provide protection for the apartment complex.
That firetruck, built in Wisconsin and costing in excess of $900,000, would be staged out of Highland Fire Station 1, at 26974 Baseline Avenue, and be available to the entire community.
Elssmann said he would be willing to purhase the ladder truck but balked at defraying the cost of paying the annual salary of a firefighter to boost one of the city’s three-man engine teams to four-man strength to provide the ladder truck with a full complement.
Because the three story apartment project would be the sole structure in town requiring the safety provision of a ladder truck, a majority of the council was insistent that Mission Development pick up the city’s added costs in manning the truck. Elssmann failed to strike a compromise with the council over that issue.
Elssmann,  a school teacher who was elected to the city council in Loma Linda in 1994 but lost the 1998 election to Robert Ziprick, moved on to serve as a consultant to and representative of developers coming before the Loma Linda City Council. He subsequently reinvented himself as a developer.
In those capacities, Elssman represented both the Lewis Operating Corporation,  the successor to Lewis Homes, in its efforts to proceed with the University Village project, a 1,500 homes and apartment subdivision and accompanying commercial uses north of Mission Road in Loma Linda, and Washington-based Holland Partners Orchard Park LLC, which wanted to build 900 residential units on adjoining property to the University Village project between Redlands Boulevard and Mission Road.
Both of those projects were approved by the Loma Linda City Council in 2005 but were never completed after citizens groups in that city protested their approval. During those protests, Elssmann’s role as a developer who had traded upon his former position as a councilman became an issue utilized by the low-growth and no-growth movement opposing the projects.
Elssmann since 2001 has been associated with a growing list of development companies, including Cb Land Company, LLC, Deer Park, LLC, Mission Development and Loma Linda Village Center, LLC., all of which are located in Redlands. While success with large projects such as Orchard Park or University Village have eluded him, his development company has had direct or indirect involvement with construction or design work on some smaller residential projects in Loma Linda.
Though the approval of Greenspot Marketplace and Village was not granted by the council, Mayor Larry McCallon told Elssmann he was free to come back with a more definitive plan in keeping with the council’s wishes in the future. Elssmann is hopeful that success with the Greenspot Marketplace and Village will advance him to the next tier of developers in San Bernardino County.

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