New Applebee’s opening in Signal Hill by early October; residential projects in the pipeline

Photos by Sean Belk/Signal Tribune<br><strong> Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill is expected to open in Signal Hill by early October, and the outside frame of the building has already been erected. Property owner Signal Hill Petroleum states that three to four other businesses have expressed interest in becoming new tenants at the Signal Hill Gateway Center along Spring Street.</strong>
Sean Belk
Staff Writer

A new Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill is quickly taking shape and will be the latest new business to open up in Signal Hill this year. Meanwhile, new residential projects are in the works.
Developers have already constructed the outside frame of the new restaurant to be located at 899 E. Spring St. at the Signal Hill Gateway Center between Atlantic and California avenues.
Representatives for Signal Hill Petroleum (SHP), which owns the property, announced last month that the family-friendly restaurant, where guests will be able to get a view of the local skyline from inside, is scheduled to open by early October.
Ashley Schaffer, SHP property manager, said the new tenant has received all approvals from the City Council for the project to proceed, including permits for the restaurant to sell alcoholic beverages.
Apple American Group representatives have stated that the company once hoped to have an outside patio but the site is not big enough for outside seating without taking away parking spaces. Representatives have said that the restaurant will have windows on three sides of the building for guests to get a nice view.
The company, known for restaurants with a broad menu ranging from meat and seafood to pasta, sandwiches, salads and soups, plans to roll out a number of new locations in the Los Angeles area, according to representatives.
<strong>Signal Hill Petroleum is working with developer SummerHill Homes to build a 28-lot subdivided residential project currently proposed as “Crescent Heights” at Walnut Avenue and Crescent Heights Street. </strong>
SHP has received interest from three to four new tenants to take up the final vacant parcel at the Gateway Center, Schaffer said. Though she couldn’t reveal any names since lease negotiations are currently underway, Schaffer said the remaining PAD (planned area development) is expected to include multiple tenants that “the City will enjoy having and will round out that center nicely,” providing “convenient” options for customers from nearby hospitals and surrounding areas.
SHP also has plans for developers to build two separate residential projects in Signal Hill. One proposal is a 28-lot, subdivided residential project currently proposed as “Crescent Heights” at Walnut Avenue and Crescent Heights Street.
As of the latest update from Signal Hill planning staff, SHP’s site plan and design review for the project have expired, however a track map is valid through Dec. 13. City officials said staff has met with the applicant to discuss a conceptual design.
According to city staff, SHP is working with Irvine-based SummerHill Homes on the project. Earlier this year, the property owner and developer met with city staff for an initial due-diligence review and a follow-up for the development. City staff added that the developer has indicated they may start their own outreach to nearby residents soon.
SHP Vice President Thomas Shollin said the residential project is moving forward but may be delayed down the road if the City continues to disallow development over abandoned oil wells.
Last month, the City Council approved a new oil code and an emergency ordinance, essentially ending a two-year moratorium on developments over and near abandoned oil wells. The moratorium was initiated after the State’s Department of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources changed their 22-year-old well-certification program in 2010, taking a “hands-off” approach to the procedure and making cities more responsible.
City staff is continuing to conduct a study on the City’s oil code and has stated that the City may make it possible in the future for developers to build over abandoned and re-abandoned oil wells.
Shollin said, however, if the current situation stands, the residential project may be hindered at some point since the site has a “dense” concentration of wells.
“The new oil code does not include the ability to develop over an abandoned well,” he said. “It’s still under consideration, but we all hope that gets approved as soon as possible. Our Crescent Square project is beholden to be able to do that… It’s moving forward, but there’s a point in time where it will not be able to move forward because we need to do some work on the wells before we can get to a public hearing.”
According to city staff, SHP also has another residential project in the works that includes a subdivision of eight three-story dwellings on eight lots, taking up approximately four acres, located between Freeman Avenue and 20th Street.

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