Aviation High School is no more. Its one-story, brick classrooms have been demolished, and the $70-million Redondo Beach Business Court is being built in their place.
There are still some reminders, though, of the school that stood on the northeast corner of Aviation and Manhattan Beach boulevards--the 38.55-acre campus that was one of the last major properties available for development in the Los Angeles International Airport/South Bay area and one of the largest surplus school sites in Southern California.
Among those reminders are a 1,464-seat auditorium that the community used almost as much as the students until the school closed after 20 years in 1982, on grounds of declining enrollment. Then there are the gymnasium, football stadium, running track and swimming pool. All need work, and that work will be financed, at least partially, by the Redondo Beach Business Court developer, Overton, Moore & Associates of Carson.
Besides developing 690,000 square feet of research-and-development/office buildings on the site, Overton, Moore is putting $600,000 into a trust account for "future park improvements and maintenance" and is providing a $4.5-million letter of credit to guarantee payments on a city bond issue for improvements to the old Aviation High recreation facilities.
In addition, the developer is contributing $1 million toward widening and improving Manhattan Beach and Aviation boulevards. Through the offices of Supervisor Deane Dana, the county has committed $900,000 toward this traffic-improvement program.
Meanwhile, Redondo Beach Business Court buildings are starting to rise where the classrooms stood. The first three buildings will total 200,000 square feet of space when completed and ready for occupancy by the end of this year.
Designed by Hill-Pinckert Architects of Irvine, the precast concrete structures will feature white-brick entry facades complemented by blue tinted glass perimeters. Curved glass will be used at building corners to soften visual impact.
Ironically, although the school buildings were torn down, the new buildings will look something like a school, because the design goal is to make the commercial project look like a campus.
To do this, the developer plans low- to medium-height buildings with support services in a heavily landscaped setting.
Phase 1 will include one two-story and two one-story buildings, the latter with mezzanines. The buildings will have two-story lobbies with postered walls and mirrored ceilings. A separate telecommunications building, providing state-of-the-art telecommunications services in the business park, is also planned.
It took six months to create the campus-like plan "in accordance with height, traffic-management and open-space requirements of a development agreement" with the Redondo Beach Redevelopment Agency, Stan Moore, president of Overton, Moore (which is also the project general contractor), said.
Moore called the development agreement "the most complicated real estate deal I have ever been involved in."
The agreement was reached after considerable controversy involving the school's closure and sale of the site.
City Manager Tim Casey termed the agreement "the most complex real estate transaction the city of Redondo Beach had ever been party to."
Douglas Ring, partner in the Westwood law firm of Howard, Mund, Chizever & Ring, labeled it one of the most complicated multi-governmental transactions ever in Los Angeles County. Ring handled the governmental negotiations for Overton, Moore.
The deal--involving approvals by several governmental agencies and the cooperation of adjacent TRW--was concluded after city voters narrowly approved an initiative setting aside 11 acres of the Aviation High campus for recreational use.
"The voter initiative carved a major piece out of the site, making it very difficult for the developer," Casey said.
Besides working with an odd-shaped parcel, Overton, Moore had to help resolve the community's recreational and traffic concerns along with paying for its share of the former high school property. Like most school districts throughout the state, the South Bay Union High School District was in dire need of funds, and it will realize a total of $17 million from the sale, including $2.8 million that the city agreed to pay for a 3.2-acre corner lot, according to Casey.
The transaction is believed to be one of the largest in terms of dollar value for the disposition of a surplus school site in California.
The Goodglick Co. of Los Angeles negotiated the sale of the property to Overton, Moore and its joint-venture partner, Copley Real Estate Advisors. The Goodglick Co. is also exclusive marketing agent for the new development.