PICO RIVERA — A major expansion at Northrop Corp. has helped push the city's building permit valuation to a record high of $31.3 million in the first quarter of the year.
That total--more than quadrupling the $7.3 million in building permits issued in the first three months of 1984--includes other commercial development and 130 residential units, according to John Walker, director of planning and building for the city.
Northrop, though, has accounted for more than half of the permit valuation, Walker said. "They have spent a phenomenal amount," he said.
Stealth Bomber Division
The aerospace giant, which bought an abandoned Ford automobile assembly plant 2 1/2 years ago, will say little about its Pico Rivera expansion. Maria Oharenko, corporate press relations officer for Northrop in Century City, said the plant houses the company's advanced-systems division, which is primarily dedicated to research and development of the Stealth bomber. The highly secret Stealth project is aimed at developing an aircraft that would be invisible to enemy radar.
Oharenko said the plant now employs 6,000 persons. She declined to specify the nature of the construction at the site or what the research entails.
However, the corporation has had difficulty conducting such a large program in secret. For instance, newspaper advertising for engineers and other employees indicates that prototype production is taking place at the Pico Rivera plant.
In addition, building permit applications give an idea of the type of construction at the 200-acre site, which sits between Rosemead and Paramount boulevards and is bordered by Washington Boulevard on the north and the Santa Fe railroad on the south.
Since 1982, Walker said, building permits have been issued for a three-story, 440,000-square-foot office building on the north side and a two-story, 300,000-square-foot industrial and office addition on the west side.
Permits were also issued for a two-story, 70,000-square-foot modular office building in the center of the site and an automatic storage and retrieval building on the east side, both of which were completed this year. Walker said that the most recent permit issued for a significant project was for a 15,000-square-foot laboratory now under construction on the east side.
Since Northrop took over the site, Walker said, more than 500 permits with a total valuation of $70 million
have been issued to the corporation, including those issued in the first quarter of this year. In addition, the corporation has conducted extensive landscaping, Walker said, and also created an employee recreational area about the size of "a nice neighborhood park," which contains an athletic field, a children's playground, picnic area and running track. Cafeterias and outdoor dining areas have also been added, he said.
Walker said that a full-time city building inspector is on the site because of the construction activity there.
When Northrop took over the plant where Ford had built automobiles for 23 years, the county assessor's office assessed the property at $35 million. But Walker said that valuation jumped to $317 million in 1984, reflecting not only the value of land and buildings but also installation of technical equipment and permanent fixtures.
Northrop's expansion has generated up to $3.17 million a year in property taxes, according to City Manager Dennis Courtemarche. The county receives 58.7% of those funds and the fire district 18.6%, with the remaining 22.7% going to the Pico Rivera Redevelopment Agency, Courtemarche said.
In addition to the Northrop projects, building permits have been issued this year for two apartment complexes with 12 and 15 units and 130 residential units.