Panattoni Complex Under Construction on Old Boeing Site

panattoniAnd now for some good news via the OC Register (from which I’ve excerpted the following):

New industrial buildings are expected to bring back some jobs lost when the Boeing Co., previously the city’s largest employer, left its large campus in east Anaheim.

The new complex by Panattoni Development Co. is under construction on the largest swath of the former location of Boeing, which announced its departure in 2006. The first buildings are set to open this summer in the Anaheim Canyon industrial area, said Stephen Batcheller, a partner of Panattoni.

“What our goal is, is to bring a lot of these jobs back,” Batcheller said.

The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce estimates that new businesses could bring in between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs, although Batcheller said he was unsure of a final number.

Panattoni Development bought 120 acres of the campus starting in 2007. Before developers even got inside the buildings, Boeing removed any traces of its secretive operations.

“Some of the stuff we could never see. It was literally top secret,” Batcheller said.

Panattoni researched the market after the recession and decided to build industrial buildings – up to 15 – on the majority of the land, calling it Anaheim Concourse. Officials plan to sell the property for uses such as manufacturing, labs or corporate headquarters.

New tenants for the buildings have yet to be finalized. The first set of buildings is expected to open in summer, followed by another set in the fall.

The buildings are part of an area the city is trying to revitalize, especially since the departure of the aerospace-related businesses. In 1995, the city approved the Anaheim Canyon Specific Plan, allowing businesses, including Panattoni, to bypass Planning Commission and City Council approval as long as the buildings conform to the current zoning.

The city is in the midst of revamping the plan to make the area a center for innovative businesses that “take full advantage of new technologies and manufacturing techniques.” The council is expected to consider final plans this year.

This is good news that everyone ought to be able to welcome. It’s also a reminder of that era in Orange County history when work in defense-related industries (whether in a white collar or manufacturing capacity) was the backbone of an upwardly-mobile middle-class in Anaheim and the rest of Orange County. The end of the Cold War slowed that down, and California’s increasingly hostile tax and regulatory climate spurred defense firms to relocate their manufacturing operations to states with friendlier economic climates.

Interestingly, Panattoni is able to take advantage of special rules enabling to complete its projects more quickly than a similar business located in a different part of Anaheim. I don’t believe there is anyone complaining about special treatment or government “picking winners and losers” by granting special consideration to businesses in one section of the city that aren’t given to businesses elsewhere in Anaheim. Perhaps its because there’s no political mileage to be squeezed, postures to strike or headlines to be made.

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  1. The reported Chamber of Commerce estimate of 6,000 jobs seems inflated. That would be a good estimate of those likely to be directly employed on the site if all 120 acres was used for heavy manufacturing. Heavy manufacturing has an employment density of 51.99 jobs per acre in Orange County. Light manufacturing, which seems like a more likely result for such a project, has an employment density of 15.99 per acre. Which would make an estimate of up to 1800 direct jobs seem more reasonable. It is extremely difficult to forecast with any reliability what the multiplier effect of such a project might be. Especially with so many variables such as the adjacency of other cities, possible vacancies created in other parts of the city, etc.
    I think Anaheim would do well to consider a high-tech business incubator to replace the impact of lost jobs at Odetics, Boeing, and companies that have left Anaheim for more attractive incubator programs out-of-state.

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