After an established 25-year career with the City of Garden Grove, 35 in public service, City Manager Matthew Fertal announced yesterday, that he is retiring, effective December 31, 2014. Fertal is credited with attracting several major businesses and implementing key developments considered pivotal to the city’s current and future financial growth and distinction, as well as preserving the City’s solidity during the economic recession.
“I have mixed emotions about my retirement from the City of Garden Grove. The past 25 years have been truly enjoyable and extremely gratifying. My deepest thanks to the Mayors and City Councils that I have had the pleasure of serving, as well as to a number of fellow employees I have worked with and consider my friends. My appreciation as well, to the Garden Grove community for their support of several challenging public and private projects,” said Fertal.
Joining the City in January 1989, Fertal served as the City’s Economic Development Manager prior to becoming the Community Development Director in 1993. In July 2002, he was appointed Assistant City Manager while serving concurrently as director. In February 2004, he was named City Manager by the Garden Grove City Council. Prior to Garden Grove, he worked for the cities of Torrance and West Covina.
With a strong background in redevelopment, Fertal was a driving force behind the emergence of the City’s most prominent tourist area known today as the Grove District - Anaheim Resort. Under his direction, the area along Harbor Boulevard adjoining the Disney Resort, once blighted and a drain on City resources, was transformed into a $16 million a year TOT (hotel tax) source for Garden Grove. It provides hospitality to more than 22.5 million tourists that visit the area each year.
The Grove District is projected to receive an additional $8 million in revenue upon completion of one of Fertal’s most important projects to date: the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California—the first water park hotel/resort of its kind in Southern California. Other Grove District projects instigated by Fertal, and already underway, include a new high-end, 750-room hotel project south of the Target store, expected to generate an additional $3.5-$4.3 million per year in hotel tax revenue.
Other areas that have seen major improvements under Fertal’s tenure have been the Valley View and Chapman commercial area in the west end of the city, and along the city’s main thoroughfare, Garden Grove Boulevard. The Brookhurst Triangle, the city’s largest mixed-use project to date, located along Garden Grove Boulevard, is scheduled for completion in Spring 2015.
The arrival of major retailers directly attributed to Fertal that have bolstered Garden Grove’s tax base and reputation, include big box stores such as Costco, Home Depot, and Walmart, and the ongoing development of The Promenade center anchored by the popular Regal Cinemas 16.
Expansion of the Garden Grove Auto Center, another major tax revenue source, and the construction of the Garden Grove Higher Education Center in the Garden Grove Civic Center were undertaken under Fertal’s direction.
Several modern, upscale housing projects, as well as affordable housing developments, were made possible through strong relationships built between Fertal and recognized developers such as Brandywine Corporation, Olson Company, Jamboree Housing, and City Ventures.
During both the damaging dissolution of the City’s Redevelopment Agency and the recent economic recession, Fertal maintained the City’s financial solvency while avoiding any interruption to City services or staff lay-offs.
Fertal’s participation in the Anaheim Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Orange County Visitors Association, and the League of California Cities, along with other recognized agencies and government organizations, have given the city a strong voice in important local, regional, and state matters.
Reflecting on his career as City Manager, Fertal says, “I think most would agree that Garden Grove is a much-improved community in just the last 15 years. It’s been both my biggest career challenge, and my most gratifying professional achievement. I’m proud of the role that I’ve played in getting it to where it is today, and preparing it to go even further.”