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Plan for Buena Clinton Industrial Center to Be Heard by City Council

Times Staff Writer

Plans to level nine of the most dilapidated apartment buildings in the Buena Clinton slum in order to build an industrial center will go before the Garden Grove City Council Monday.

The project is part of the city’s plan to redevelop the slum corridor bordered by Buena and Clinton streets. It includes creating a park on Keel Avenue, building low- and moderate-income housing and renovating buildings, City Manager Mike Fenderson said.

In the first phase of the plan, nine apartment buildings on 7.8 acres north of Keel Avenue would be demolished and replaced by industrial buildings.

“It will get rid of the worst apartment buildings and begin to change the complexion of the neighborhood,” Fenderson said.

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For the first project, the Buena Clinton Center, a development partnership of Stan Smolin and John W. Casey Jr., would relocate the Carr-Griff Manufacturing Co. from Anaheim to a site between Westminster and Keel avenues. City officials hope the plant, which produces small engines, would employ some of the area’s residents.

Building Purchased

The city already has bought the apartment building on that site and vacated it. The city’s Agency for Community Development has agreements to buy the rest of the 7.8 acres, using its own money and a $4.2-million grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 12-unit apartment buildings will cost an average of $430,000 apiece, Armando Morales, city real property agent, said.

Smolin and Casey then would buy the entire 7.8-acre site from the city and sell parcels to other industrial companies, said Victoria Nelson, a senior economic specialist for the agency. The city, following federal regulations, will relocate the 100 families that will be displaced by the development.

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Some residents would receive rent subsidies and assistance with moving costs, Morales said. Tenants would be relocated within Buena Clinton or, if desired, in another part of the city, he added.

Community activist Delia Carrasco said some tenants already are moving because they are suspicious that they will have to leave their homes anyway and will never receive financial aid. “They feel bitter and angry because the city has been getting lots of money. But where did all that money go?” she said.

She said the city would like to “sweep the Mexicans under the rug.”

Historically, the city has been accused of not addressing problems in the predominantly Latino area.

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During a discussion of the plans for Buena Clinton at the city Human Services Commission on Wednesday, members called the area an “embarrassment” and wondered aloud how they could get rid of undocumented Mexicans living there.

Progress in Long Struggle

Commissioner Walter Wyatt, who praised the city’s efforts to rehabilitate the area, joked that Buena Clinton residents get their television sets by stealing them from an adjacent mobile home park.

City officials see the pending changes as progress in a long struggle to revamp the neighborhood. “It’s the first time since I’ve been involved in this area that I actually see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Fenderson told the commission.

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The city’s plans include narrowing Keel Avenue and landscaping its perimeters into a park. The street would be divided into two cul-de-sacs with a basketball court and greenery in the center. Picnic tables, barbecue grills and play equipment would be placed along the street, and cars would be banned.

Next to the planned industrial center the city may demolish two buildings and build low- and moderate-income housing with “lots of bedrooms,” Fenderson said. But there still are no detailed plans for this phase of the project.

Another part of the project involves renovating apartment buildings oN the east side of Buena Street through a nonprofit corporation that has already repaired one building on the block, Fenderson said.


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