Hoping to end Carson's three-year search for an image-enhancing Civic Center development, council members this week unanimously approved an agreement for construction of a $34-million hotel and office complex.
As part of the agreement reached Monday with Gestec Properties and Muller Co., the city will sell the developers a 6.33-acre parcel for $3.25 million--or about $1 million less than the city paid for it. Such subsidies are legal under California redevelopment law.
The redevelopment project calls for construction of a 235-room Ibis hotel and a six-story office complex. Also included in the proposal are two restaurants.
Construction of the development, under study since last November, is expected to begin in September after financial arrangements are completed. The developers paid the city an initial $60,000 installment this week and must close escrow on the property by Sept. 3.
The agreement was lauded by most council members as a major accomplishment in the city's problem-ridden attempts to develop its Civic Center, which also includes City Hall and the Carson Community Center. Plans for a Hilton hotel collapsed last September when the developer pulled out of the project for lack of financing and because of differences with the city during negotiations.
Councilwoman Vera Robles DeWitt, a vocal critic of the Hilton negotiations, asserted on Monday that her colleagues "played favorites" by choosing Gestec Properties over several other developers.
Other council members disputed her, saying that they had acted in good faith. Councilwoman Sylvia Muise asked city staff to prepare a chronology of actions taken on the project.
DeWitt voted with other council members to approve the agreement. Mayor Kay Calas, who owns property near the Civic Center, did not vote on the agreement.