April 11, 2012, could be forever known in the history of Fountain Valley as Hyun-day, as the city's Planning Commission unanimously approved site plans Wednesday night for new national headquarters.
The 496,700-square-foot campus will include a six-story office building, a technical services building and a parking structure. The commission also certified the project's environmental impact report and granted variances that will allow for the office building's 115-foot height as well as additional signage.
The project is expected to generate 1,300 jobs in Fountain Valley from start to finish, with 500 of those jobs being new on top of the workforce that occupied the previous building on the same Talbert Avenue site.
The only real point of contention in the project's environmental impact report was the inevitable increase in traffic. The new building is expected to generate 5,027 daily trips, an increase of 2,463 from the previous building, but Hyundai has agreed to include a traffic signal at the new building's main entrance, and has also agreed to pay $59 in mitigation for each of the extra trips generated should the need arise in the future to expand Talbert Avenue.
Michael Fox, Hyundai's director of administrative services, made the company's formal presentation of the project to the commission, outlining the four main reasons Hyundai wanted to and ultimately decided to remain in Fountain Valley: the desirable location near Interstate 405, the fact that the company already owned the land, the company's positive relationship with the city goverment and community, and the fact that Fountain Valley's central location provided the best average commute distance for Hyundai employees.
Fox also outlined the benefits for Fountain Valley, including the 500 new jobs as well as an estimated $273 million in total economic impact. In addition, the new building will be gold-level LEED certified for its environmental innovations throughout the demolition and construction, as well as in its daily operations. The campus will feature mature pine trees along Talbert Avenue that are being transplanted from elsewhere on the site. Planning commissioner Margie Drilling praised Hyundai for its efforts to save the trees.
"I can't thank you enough, and I think the community can't thank you enough, for putting in the time and the expense to do that," she said.
Commissioner Ron Walker praised Hyundai for its community outreach efforts throughout the early stages of the process, and for its responses to the concerns of the residents in the nearby neighborhood.
"You have listened to the community and I think it shows tonight," Walker said. "We don't have a lot of opposition here tonight."
In fact, only one member of the public, Valerie Trueblood, spoke out against the project, and her concerns were less about the Hyundai project itself, and more about the emergence of other similarly large-scale projects in Fountain Valley, and how they might affect the quality of life in the city.
"It really is rather astounding," she said. "I hear them say they want this project to fit into the community, but I don't see a lot of six-story buildings anywhere around here. We came to Fountain Valley because it is more of a bedroom community. It's been known as a nice place to live, but I'm starting to see a gradual change that this is becoming more of a city... I'm starting to hear people call it a nice place to leave, and I don't want that."