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TELACU Drops Plan for Lawry’s Site

The East Los Angeles Community Union has abandoned plans to develop housing on the former site of Lawry’s California Center, bowing to strong community opposition.

The union, known as TELACU, had proposed buying the 17-acre, $12.5-million property, which has been unoccupied for two years, and building 208 condominiums as well as movie theaters, shops, offices and restaurants.

In response to community concerns that the housing would be too dense and would cause traffic problems, TELACU sought financing for the West Avenue 26 project with fewer housing units and also with none at all, said the agency’s spokeswoman, J.C. Flores.

But the banks would not agree to those plans because revenue from the retail part of the project would not have supported the development, she said.

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For 30 years, the center, which included restaurants and shops, attracted tourists with its gardens and architecture. It closed in 1992 after Thomas J. Lipton Inc., the owner, experienced financial problems..

Community activist Art Pulido remains adamant about not allowing any housing to be built on the property, even if it means the center could be closed to the public for good.

Pulido suggested that the owners form a committee of residents to help guide any plans to develop the site.

“It’s up to them to inform the residents so we don’t run into another situation like (with) TELACU,” Pulido said. “If they have a developer that’s interested in coming in, we’d be more than glad to sit down with them and discuss the possibilities.”

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