“Simply put, no, we are not back at square one”

Yesterday, I put up a post about the La Puente City Council deciding to go with the Charles Co. for redevelopment of the former La Puente Lanes bowling alley site.

Naturally, this question came to mind: It’s good to hear that a decision has been made, but it makes me wonder where things go from here. The city was in talks with the Charles Co. for almost a year on this project, they didn’t get very far, mulled a new developer, and then went back to them.

Are we back at square one?

Well, looks like Mayor Louie Lujan wants to squelsh any concerns that the city is moving backwards. I got this e-mail from him this morning in response to the question:

Simply put, no, we are not back at square one. The main reasons are:

During the 45 day evaluation period much was progressing behind the scenes, including the Gadzunas eminent domain case.

Since the city successfully acquired the property from the Gadzunas eminent domain case, we have been working to relocate the businesses and are nearing completion of the entire transaction. Therefore, we are closer to the point at which we can begin demolition of the existing strip mall.

The critical analysis of the project by our redevelopment consultant and staff has given us a much clearer picture of how we can work within the constraints of our economy. Armed with this information, we can move forward more efficiently and therefore keep a strict project time line.

From here, we enter into a DDA with the Charles Company, complete all property acquisition and assembly, complete CEQA requirements, and begin to structure a time line for demolition. Meanwhile, the Charles Company will begin to confirm tenants.

Finally, the 45 day evaluation period was critical in that we were able to address the three areas of concern that I mentioned to you before:

The sagging economy
Project type: Big Box V.S. mixed-use
The Gadzunas land deal.

I have to say, the bit about the DDA does show serious commitment. This from the City of Long Beach:

A Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) is typically utilized by a city or
redevelopment agency for a specific project that will be built out in a single
phase. A redevelopment agency is allowed to enter into a DDA so long as the proposed project is within a redevelopment project area.