Los Angeles County supervisors approved a proposal Tuesday that they hope will lead to construction of a business park, retail stores and an upscale restaurant on 37 acres of surplus county land near Olive View Medical Center in Sylmar.
The proposal by the county’s Asset Development Division calls for the county to seek a developer willing to pay an estimated $260 million over 66 years in a combination of lease payments and profit-sharing from businesses at the site.
Supervisor Ed Edelman amended the proposal to include a county preference for office buildings, particularly medical office buildings, over industrial buildings. Edelman, who recently added Sylmar to his district under court-ordered redistricting, said he made the change in response to community opposition to the original proposal.
No one spoke against the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting. However, Sylmar community activists have said too much land in the area is devoted to industry, including land for the sprawling Sunset Farms business park. They said they would prefer to see houses or parkland on the site.
Pat Cane, chairwoman of the Olive View Neighborhood Watch, said in a telephone interview that she was not satisfied with Edelman’s amendment. She had asked the supervisor to make plans for the entire 535 acres the county owns in the area, rather than allowing piecemeal development.
“If they just do 30 acres now, 10 later, 15 another year, by the time it’s finished with, it’ll be a mess, a pimple on the nose of the county,” Cane said.
Residents also have accused county planners of including an upscale restaurant in their plans to soften community opposition. Although residents have long coveted a fancy restaurant, they questioned whether a developer could attract such an establishment to the far-removed corner of Sylmar.
Real estate experts also have expressed some pessimism that the county will be able to find a developer willing to build on leased land, especially in the current sluggish economic climate.
But at least one developer already has indicated some interest in the property. Cantwell Anderson Inc. is one of the owners of 230 acres in Wilson Canyon, next to the county property. Cantwell Anderson has proposed building 250 homes in the canyon, a plan that has met widespread community opposition.
President Tim Cantwell said he wanted to review the county’s formal request for proposals before making any decisions about the Olive View land. But he said his company had discussed the future of all of the county land around the hospital with county planners.
“We’re potentially interested,” Cantwell said, “depending on . . . whether or not it’s consistent with the community’s desires.”