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CANOGA PARK : Coast Federal Bank May Buy Hughes Site

Coast Federal Bank is negotiating with Hughes Aircraft Co. to buy the aerospace firm’s sprawling Canoga Park campus to use as a headquarters after the research facility is shut down later this year.

Hughes will shut down missile engineering operations at the 86-acre facility Oct. 7 as part of a corporate restructuring that is moving many workers to a plant in Tucson.

Coast executives have been negotiating with Hughes and Los Angeles city officials for several months to find larger quarters for some 700 workers now based in Granada Hills.

Although the bank will need only about half of the Canoga Park facility’s 843,000 square feet, spokesman David Porges said the extra space “allows us the room to accommodate future growth.”

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It was unclear whether the bank would sell or lease out extra space.

Grieg Smith, chief deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson, said his office has been working with Coast executives to find a new location since last year, trying to convince them not to leave the city.

Smith said the city might set up a nonprofit economic development corporation to buy the Hughes land, then sell parcels back to Coast and other companies.

The advantage to such an arrangement is that Hughes as well as potential purchasers would be eligible for special tax credits.

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“We’re looking at some other businesses for whom this particular facility would be ideal,” said Smith, who estimated the total price of the property at $10 million to $14 million.

If the property is sold, a recreational facility built for Hughes employees would be turned over to the city for use as a public park.

If the buyer is Coast, Porges said the bank would transfer all operations except its executive offices in Los Angeles to Canoga Park.

In an attempt to make the campus more attractive to potential buyers, Hughes spokesman Rand Christiansen said the company will ask Los Angeles officials next week to amend the property’s conditional-use permit to allow financial and business services at the site.

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