ANAHEIM – A historic – and dilapidated – citrus packinghouse downtown will get new life as part of a housing plan approved by the city Tuesday night.

The City Council, acting as the redevelopment agency, unanimously backed a concept that calls for construction of 88 condominiums and the refurbishment of the boarded-up packinghouse, which will be converted into a large restaurant or other commercial use.

Anaheim approved a plan to redevelop an area of downtown with 88 condos and, in the process, save an historic former citrus packing house located at the corner of S. Anaheim Blvd. and E. Santa Ana St.

The project is part of a city effort in recent years to bring upscale housing and more fashionable retail uses back to a downtown that had faded in recent decades. The packinghouse, at the northeast corner of Anaheim Boulevard and Santa Ana Street, dates back to 1919, when it was occupied by the Anaheim Orange & Lemon Growers Association, which later became the Anaheim Valencia Orange Association.

Railroad tracks still run adjacent to the old packinghouse, which is
now commonly known as the Anaheim Citrus Packing House.

With the decline of the citrus industry in Orange County, the building
was converted to other uses – most recently as an ice-making factory.
But it shut its doors earlier this decade and some residents began to
wonder if the building could be saved.

No doubt it should be saved, said John O’Brien, vice president of
urban infill for Brookfield Homes, the project developer.

The historic building has archways and high windows, representative
of the architecture that helped define early Orange County.

“We definitely see the packinghouse as an asset and as an amenity
that will draw people downtown,” O’Brien said. “We see it as a place
where people will want to walk to from the downtown and to drive to
from outside the area to stop for coffee or grab a beer and watch a

Brookfield will be in charge of refurbishing the building and then
managing it for commercial use.

O’Brien said the process of finding tenants will come later, but he
anticipates a large anchor restaurant inside the 42,700-square-foot
building, with smaller surrounding uses such as shops and perhaps a

The condominiums would be built on two surrounding parcels that
total just over 3 acres.

One parcel will consist of 52 homes, the other of 36, with each condo
averaging 1,343 square feet. At least nine of the units will be designated as low-income housing and sold at a restricted price of $329,900, city officials said.

The city’s redevelopment agency plans to provide up to $2.3 million
in down-payment assistance for qualifying low-income families.

In all, the agency spent $5.9 million for land acquisition, demolition
and site preparation.

Brookfield paid $3.5 million for the land. And an independent real-estate analysis projected that the project would bring in $8.2
million in tax revenue. So the city estimates it will see a net profit of $5.8 million.

Maurice Turner, a resident in another nearby Brookfield project called Colony Park, came to the council meeting to support the idea.

“I appreciate what the city has done to make the downtown a place to live, work and play,” he said. “This will help solidify the
downtown core.”