Buyer Plans Multiscreen Theater in Northeast L.A.


Northeast Los Angeles would get its first multiscreen movie theater in about three decades as part of a Miami-based developer’s plan for an industrial park along the Los Angeles River.

The nearly 40-acre project in Cypress Park would rise on what is for now the last parcel available at Taylor Yard, once a major facility of Southern Pacific Railroad. In addition to 650,000 square feet of industrial space, the project would include an 18- to 20-screen movie complex, stores, restaurants and a parking garage for 1,000 vehicles, according to Lennar Partners. The firm, a subsidiary of LNR Property Corp., is in escrow to buy the property from Union Pacific, which acquired Southern Pacific in 1996.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Hernandez, who represents the area, said he pushed for the inclusion of the movie and retail complex. It would sit on San Fernando Road, halfway between the 110 and 2 freeways. The development, about three miles north of downtown Los Angeles, would attract local residents who now travel to movie houses in neighboring Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena, he said.

“There’s no reason they can’t watch them in Los Angeles, except that we don’t have those complexes here,” Hernandez said.


The combination of an industrial park and a movie theater is unusual but feasible, said Greg Morrell, vice president of acquisitions for Lennar. The site is ample enough to accommodate a cluster of giant industrial buildings--including some of more than 100,000 square feet--as well as a major entertainment center, he said. A similar combination has worked well on the site of the former General Motors plant in Van Nuys.

However, Morrell said the city needs to help defray the cost of the retail-movie theater’s parking garage for the project to make economic sense. Morrell said the firm could start construction this fall if it receives the necessary city approvals and financial support.

“You couldn’t do it without some assistance,” said Morrell, whose company has been approached by a movie theater operator interested in the site. “We are trying to make it work. Everyone hopes we can.”

The movie and retail complex would serve as a major boost for Cypress Park, a predominantly Latino, low-income neighborhood that has often been associated with gang violence. But ongoing efforts to battle crime, along with street improvements and the recent opening of a Home Depot store near the 5 and 110 freeways, have set the stage for a community resurgence, say neighborhood boosters.


“With time, we are seeing it change,” said Ed Reyes, chief of staff for Hernandez. He said statistics show that crime in the area has fallen 40% in recent years.

The Lennar project would become the most recent addition to the nearly two-mile-long Taylor Yard. A Federal Express distribution center, a Ralphs supermarket and a MetroLink maintenance facility have been built on the approximately 200-acre site in recent years. In the next few weeks, the seven buildings that make up the first phase of the Los Angeles Media Technology Center will be completed there.