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Downey Council Plans 3 Redevelopment Areas : Urban planning: The tracts would cover 54.7 acres and allow room to build an auto mall and to expand a car dealership and a hospital.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The City Council has proposed three new redevelopment areas to help Downey Community Hospital and a Ford dealership expand and to create an auto mall on the city’s east side.

The council unanimously approved resolutions Tuesday to study the three redevelopment areas, which would cover 54.7 acres.

The city has two redevelopment districts that cover about 430 acres along Firestone Boulevard and 118 acres in an industrial area in the eastern part of the city. The Embassy Suites Hotel on Firestone Boulevard is the centerpiece of Downey’s redevelopment program.

There was no public opposition at the meeting, but final approval is still months away. If all goes smoothly, the new redevelopment areas could be in place by next June, said Ken Farfsing, assistant city manager.

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He said the proposed redevelopment areas will help produce more sales and property tax revenue for Downey.

The plan raises the much-debated issue of condemnation powers in the proposed districts. “Our preference is if we don’t need it, let’s not put it in,” Farfsing said.

Downey redevelopment officials and residents locked horns many times during the 1980s over the use of eminent domain to further redevelopment. The city’s Redevelopment Agency has condemnation powers in a 125-acre zone along the Firestone Boulevard commercial corridor, which was first formed in 1978 and expanded in 1980.

But when council members voted in 1987 to add another 305 acres to the Firestone district and to create a 118-acre district straddling Woodruff Avenue, they heeded the protests of residents and did not give the Redevelopment Agency condemnation powers.

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Local dentist Michael E. Sullivan--president of Downey Cares, a group of businessmen and residents opposed to eminent domain--said his group will closely monitor the city as it moves forward on the expansion of the redevelopment zones.

“We’ll study and decide whether to endorse it,” Sullivan said.

One of the proposed areas is 12.3 acres that extend north from Downey Community Hospital on Brookshire Avenue, across Margaret Street and to nearby railroad tracks.

Hospital officials have proposed building two five-story medical office buildings for $21 million. Redevelopment officials do not anticipate that condemnation powers will be needed, Farfsing said.

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The second proposed redevelopment area covers 31.5 acres just south of where the Santa Ana and San Gabriel River freeways cross. Redevelopment officials envision an auto center and other businesses on the land. The Redevelopment Agency may need condemnation powers to move the project forward, Farfsing said.

The third area covers 10.9 acres on three corners of the intersection of Lakewood Boulevard and Gallatin Road in the northern part of the city. Downey Ford would like to renovate and expand its facilities. The Redevelopment Agency also may need eminent domain in this area, Farfsing said.

Redevelopment Agency officials have contacted many property owners in the three areas about the proposed redevelopment plans, Farfsing said.

The city planning and environmental studies associated with establishing the new redevelopment areas will cost the city about $90,000, a city report said.

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In a related action, council members voted Tuesday to begin talks with a developer to build an office building, retail stores, restaurants and a parking garage on two blocks in downtown Downey.

The development will cover most of the two blocks from Downey to La Reina avenues, between Second and Third streets. The city owns some of that land, which is in a redevelopment zone.

How the city’s Redevelopment Agency would participate in the development will be worked out during the talks, Farfsing said.


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