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S.F. Springs Builds Its Commercial Base, Pushes a New Image

January 12, 1986|CARMEN VALENCIA | Times Staff Writer

SANTA FE SPRINGS — City officials here say that with five projects totaling $47.3 million due to begin construction in the next three months, this is the year that major plans for redevelopment finally get off the drawing boards.

The new construction includes a light-industrial and commercial complex on a key piece of property that will be the city's largest redevelopment project to date.

City building permits reached a record high of $62 million in 1984 and totaled $56.1 million in 1985. Santa Fe Springs officials say that with the lengthy list of projects scheduled to begin construction in the first quarter of this year, 1986 could be a record breaker.

As part of the city's push to attract new businesses, it will

kick off a marketing campaign Wednesday called "Discovering Santa Fe Springs." Fred Latham, assistant city manager, said the program will include brochures, filmstrips and advertisements that will tout the city as an area planned for business and industry.

With the new projects and the marketing campaign, city officials say, they hope this old oil town will shake its heavy-industry image so that it can build a new base from cleaner and more attractive industrial and commercial development that will bring in more jobs at higher salaries.

"We wanted to push the market where it hadn't been before," said Bob Orpin, assistant director for redevelopment and housing. "Our goal is to set the tone for development. We (wanted) more office and research and development type uses."

Besides, Orpin said, the new development will "look nicer" than what it replaces.

Richard Weaver, director of planning and development, added that beyond aesthetics, the city is "financially much better off if we can attract higher-end developments" because higher taxes are paid on those projects. He said that in the last five years the Planning Department has tried to act on the City Council's mandate to improve the quality of industrial and commercial development.

But Councilwoman Betty Wilson said the direction toward light industry also came about because of a demand for it by "developers and people who are moving in."

"If the need wasn't there, developers wouldn't come in," said Wilson, who has been on the council since 1957.

City officials and others involved in changing Santa Fe Springs' heavy-industry image say change is not something that can be accomplished quickly.

The first test of a higher-end market in the city came in 1983 when the Town Center Business Park--a $30-million, 28-acre office and light industrial complex--opened at Telegraph Road and Pioneer Boulevard. Although it got off to a shaky start, the Prudential Insurance Co. of America project is currently 95% leased, said Leif Regvall, associate investment manager for Prudential Development Group.

Regvall attributes the slow start to a combination of factors, including the economy and the fact that Santa Fe Springs was "a new marketplace for that quality of office space." He said that Prudential is now working on plans to finish Phase 2, which will include a three-story office building, a light-industrial building and a restaurant.

"What's happening in Santa Fe Springs is kind of proving out our decision to build in the first place," Regvall said. The location, equally accessible to both Orange County and downtown Los Angeles, was considered of prime importance, he said.

At Center of Area

The project lies in the middle of a redevelopment area along Telegraph Road.

The centerpiece of the city, however, lies just east of the Prudential complex; at the rate of one truck per minute, almost 11,000 truckloads of soil are being carted onto a site at Telegraph and Norwalk Boulevard in preparation for the biggest development project in the city's history.

The 67-acre property, which will be called the Heritage Corporate Center, is being readied for the construction of a $75-million center to be built in three phases that will include office and industrial buildings, restaurants, a health club, a day-care center and a historical park. Phase 1 construction--with 13 buildings worth $25 million--is expected to begin in February.

"There is no question there is a transformation taking place," said Don Powell, city manager. "The whole (Telegraph Road) area will begin to expand with that type of development."

Preservation of Park

Six acres of the property have been set aside for the preservation of Heritage Park, the site of a large residential adobe built in the 1800s, a ranch and water tower. The $4-million project, financed by the Redevelopment Agency, will house a museum and will be reconstructed as close to its original form as possible.

Powell said the "park will add a nice ambiance to the whole development." Construction on that phase is scheduled to begin in October, 1986.

The Redevelopment Agency has been negotiating since March with O'Donnell Brigham & Partners of Costa Mesa for the development of the property.

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