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La Palma Center's First Phase Nears Opening

October 27, 1985|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

Like many other largely residential cities, the northern Orange County community of La Palma had to seek a balance between residential and commercial development after passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.

Boasting the fourth highest average household income in Orange County--$44,615 in 1984--and with resale homes averaging $180,000 and new homes $240,000, La Palma had to modify its zoning to survive in a changed world, according to City Manager Richard Rowe.

Land was available in the form of a 42-acre parcel along the Artesia (91) Freeway. The city purchased the site from Crown Zellerbach and--in partnership with Birtcher Campbell DDA, an affiliate of the Laguna Niguel-based Birtcher firm--created Birtcher Centerpointe on the site.

The 400,000-square-foot first phase of the $70-million commercial/retail business park opens in December with six office buildings, three restaurants and a 162-room Day's Inn business-oriented hotel.

The project's design by the Irvine-based architectural firm of Ware/Malcomb and the landscape architects, the Runa Group, Newport Beach, organizes the development's elements around a central circular drive, with entrances on Orangethorpe Avenue and Valley View Street. Pedestrian walkways and "pocket parks" with benches and outdoor eating areas are provided in the heavily landscaped development.

The city was fortunate that its minuscule land area (1.75 square miles) included frontage on the burgeoning Artesia Freeway corridor, according to Doug Anderson, managing partner of Birtcher Campbell DDA. The firm was selected from among several developers that the city asked to provide development plans for the site.

As part of the project's overall planning, the city and the Birtcher concern divided the more than $1.5-million cost of traffic signals, median construction and landscaping on Valley View Street and Orangethorpe Avenue.

When it is completed in 1988, the 15-building project will have about 800,000 square feet of office, research and development and multitenant space, Anderson said.

Major corporations that have located near the development along the Artesia Corridor include J C Penney, Automated Data Processing, Yamaha International, Noritsu, Mead Corp., GM-Delco, Panasonic, McDonnell Douglas and Mitsubishi.

"The corridor is an alternative to the crowded South Bay and Harbor areas," Anderson said. "Communities like La Palma, Buena Park, La Mirada, Cerritos and Fullerton provide a strong labor base and excellent living opportunities for employees."

Financing for the development is being provided by Mutual of New York. The leasing agent is Coldwell Banker, Orange.

Founded in 1939, Birtcher has more than $1.3 billion of commercial, industrial and retail investment and development under way or planned nationwide.

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