Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
VALLEY WEST – On Sept. 4, the Arcata City Council accepted the final map for the Mad River Parkway Business Center, a new-from-the-ground-up commercial, multifamily residential, and light industrial development adjacent to a future city park with public access to the Mad River.
But the real excitement came last Wednesday, Sept. 25, property owners Ken and Ellen Zanzi hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate their new subdivision on Arcata’s northernmost reaches.
The Mad River Parkway Business Center (MRPBC) offers 14 new buildable lots on Giuntoli Lane, and the Zanzis are now accepting deposits for the lots.
Ground was broken July 12 of last year, and though a casual passerby may see a vast, empty expanse, intensive site preparation over the past year has put in place the roads, sidewalks and utilities needed for a whole new-from-the-ground-up Arcata neighborhood.
The mixed-use community offers space for light industrial, commercial, professional office and residential units from Giuntoli Lane to the Mad River. The new neighborhood will feature rain gardens, permeable paving for rainwater retention and groundwater replenishment. Bike and pedestrian paths will provide access to all areas of the community as well as public access to the Mad River. Also included are a riparian zone, interpretive trail and lighting.
Ambitious as it is, the Mad River Parkway project is just part of a larger vision for a grand refurbishment of all of northern Arcata. Other planned elements – some slowed a bit due to the state’s clawback of redevelopment funds – include street improvements, parks and paths for Valley West. A nearby development in the works is the Mad River Community Hospital Wellness Campus, which will include medical and educational facilities, parks and housing. All of the area’s projects will be linked with trails.
The MRPBC property has been in Ellen Zanzi’s family since the 1940s. It was owned by her father, who originally intended it to be a dairy but ended up renting it as grazing land for cattle. It has been more than 20 years since Ellen Zanzi first had the idea to develop the property.
The Zanzis went to the City with their ideas in 2005. The City Council first approved the project February, 2010.