Compton Gives Initial OK to 10 Development Projects

Times Staff Writer

Anticipating changes in law that would hamper redevelopment, the City Council has approved in concept 10 housing and commercial projects that, if built, will bring $37 million in construction to the city--much of it within the next year.

City Manager Laverta Montgomery encouraged the council Tuesday to approve so many developments at one time because changes proposed in President Reagan's budget would severely limit the types of bonds a city can support. By giving its approval in concept now, the council would "grandfather in"--or guarantee--its right to issue the bonds under existing law, she told the council.

The council declared its intention to issue tax-free bonds to help developers build six commercial projects worth $20 million.

Most costly of the six would be an $11-million retirement community. Also planned are a 100-store mini-mall, a new 60,000-square-foot department store and two new businesses for the one-third occupied Alameda Auto Plaza.

The council--at Montgomery's urging--also declared its intention to issue $17 million in bonds to construct 182 new apartments and refurbish 225 apartments and condominiums on four sites.

City-Sponsored Bonds

Both the housing and commercial projects would be built by private companies, with the city sponsoring the bonds to promote construction. City sponsorship of bonds makes interest earned from them tax free; however, only the developers (not the city) guarantee investors that their money will be paid back, said Montgomery.

The council's action does not commit it to issuing the bonds or to particular project designs. Detailed plans for each project would have to be approved before the city would authorize sale of the bonds.

The new projects would continue a strong redevelopment trend in Compton, a city that only two years ago was identified in a Rand Corp. report as one of 14 urban "disaster areas" nationwide because of poverty, housing deterioration and business stagnation.

In recent years, however, hundreds of new dwellings, a $23-million shopping center, a new Civic Center and a thriving industrial zone have been built. A new $30-million hotel and convention center is scheduled to break ground this spring.

Nor are the projects approved Tuesday a wish list, said Redevelopment Director Myrna DeJean. "These are for real," she said, insisting that most should be under construction this year.

'An Inquiry a Day'

"At one time we couldn't do a project a year," said DeJean, "and all of the sudden, in the last year and a half, we're getting an inquiry a day. And they're not just for the redevelopment area."

The projects approved in concept Tuesday were:

- An $11-million retirement community on 3.5 acres at Compton and Long Beach boulevards. The 122,730-square-foot complex would include a 10-story apartment tower, a health clinic and an education building.

- A $2.3-million Zodys department store on the southwest corner of the new Town Center shopping center. "This will complete our shopping center," said DeJean.

- A $2.5-million conversion of the old 250,000-square-foot Sears building on Long Beach Boulevard into a 100-shop mall that would include two movie theaters. The building has been purchased and plans are being drawn, said DeJean.

- A $1.5-million retail automobile dealership in the Alameda Auto Plaza. An existing Oldsmobile dealership in South Gate is expected to move in by summer, DeJean said.

- A $1.2-million Auto Plaza development, where new and used recreational vehicles and automobiles would be sold and serviced.

- A $1.7-million industrial building.

Additional Projects

- A $5-million refurbishment of 168 Santa Fe Gardens condominiums on Santa Avenue between Myrrh and Cypress streets.

- Construction of 66 apartments for $4 million at 2200 Bullis Road. Building has already begun with federal funding.

- Construction of a 116-apartment senior citizen housing complex for $4 million at Rosecrans Avenue and Bullis Road.

- Refurbishment of 57 apartments for $4 million at Kay Street and Bullis Road.

In other development-related actions, the council moved ahead on two projects.

It approved a lease to Los Angeles businessman Brett Mitchell, who said he will open a Chevrolet dealership at the Auto Plaza next week. Two weeks ago, the council agreed to buy three downtown parcels from Mitchell for $725,000, giving him the capital to go ahead with the dealership.

Acting as the redevelopment board, the council also granted Lazben Financial Co. of Los Angeles, developer of the city's new hotel, exclusive rights to negotiate with the city on six parcels in the Auto Plaza. Lazben wants to run a wholesale auto auction from a new 70,000-square-foot building. The auction would bring the city $1.5 million a year in sales taxes, the developers claim.

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