A regional shopping center, seen by Pomona officials as crucial to bringing in needed revenues, came another step closer to reality this week as a major department store firm received exclusive rights to negotiate for the project.
May Centers Inc. of St. Louis, development arm of the May Department Stores Co., which owns the May Co. and Robinson's chains, is proposing to build a shopping center containing at least three major department stores and 100 shops on a 72-acre site near the junction of the Pomona Freeway and Corona Expressway.
Steve Ehrhart, development director for May Centers, told the Pomona City Council Monday night that the shopping center, with estimated construction costs of more than $55 million, could be ready to open by October, 1991.
The mall is expected to annually generate more than $1 million in additional property tax revenue, more than $1.7 million in sales tax revenue, $1 million in utility taxes and create 2,200 jobs.
"This is a very exciting moment for the future health of Pomona," Mayor Donna Smith said.
The firm and the city must negotiate the purchase price of the city-owned property and details of the development before a final agreement can be signed. City officials are hoping to sign an agreement with the firm by March of next year.
Previously, the council had stipulated that before it would grant May Centers exclusive negotiating rights, the firm would have to break off its negotiations to build a similar center in San Bernardino County. Those negotiations, which had been in progress several years, ended earlier this year, Ehrhart said.
As part of its agreement with the firm, the city would pay for the construction of off-site improvements on the surface streets, such as street upgrading, traffic lights, sidewalks and landscaping, estimated to cost up to $2 million, said Sanford Sorenson, director of community development. The cost of building freeway interchanges and on- and off-ramps could reach $37 million, he said. The city would share freeway-access costs with state and local agencies, Sorenson said, but the exact breakdown will depend on negotiations between the city and the other agencies.
"We do believe there would be a substantial obligation on the city's part. . . . I just can't quantify it at this time," he said.
Under the agreement, May Centers could loan the city up to $1 million to assist with making the off-site improvements. City Administrator A. J. Wilson said the initial revenues generated by the center would be used to pay off loans for the off-site improvements.
"We are anticipating that a direct benefit to the city would occur by the fifth year in a major way," Wilson said.
May Centers owns an interest in 28 malls nationwide, five of which are in the Los Angeles area, including the Eastland shopping center in West Covina and the West Covina Fashion Plaza.