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Redondo Officials Hail Surplus School Plan as Model of Cooperation

February 27, 1986|BOB WILLIAMS | Times Staff Writer

REDONDO BEACH — City and school officials tonight will unveil an ambitious plan to use seven school sites in Redondo Beach for a combination of commercial development, senior-citizen housing and expanded public recreation.

The proposed project, which officials hailed as a model of cooperation in resolving the often-conflicting land-use interests of cities and school districts, calls for construction of up to 300 housing units for the elderly at the closed Andrews and McCandless schools.

Part of those sites will also be used for commercial development, and the site of the closed Franklin school would be converted to a public park.

Improve Playgrounds

The city will continue to operate a community resource center at the Patterson school under a new five-year lease, and playgrounds at three active campuses--Beryl, Madison and Jefferson--will be improved for joint school and community use.

The plan, worked out during more than seven months of intense negotiation, allows the Redondo Beach City Elementary School District to retain ownership of all of the surplus sites.

The cities will use the Franklin site under a 99-year, $1.5-million lease agreement, and the district will grant developers 55-year leases on the Andrews and McCandless properties.

The plan will be discussed at a public hearing at 7 p.m. today in the auditorium of Redondo Union High School, 631 Vincent Park. If the community response is favorable, the school board and the City Council are expected to authorize the project at separate meetings on Tuesday night, officials said.

School Supt. Nick Parras said that the "agreement demonstrates the ability of the school district and the city to harmonize competing land-use and financial interests in a way that benefits our shared constituencies."

"Everybody can gain from this plan," he said.

Revitalize Programs

Parras said the infusion of cash from the project will enable the district to revitalize programs and upgrade facilities that have been hit hard in recent years by heavy losses in enrollment--and the subsequent loss of state financial aid based on average daily attendance.

The 3,900-student district has closed seven campuses since 1973, when it operated 17 schools for 10,300 students. The district expects to lose about 500 more students in the next few years and, even with the planned leasing of schools, the system will have enough classroom space for 2,000 more youngsters, Parras said.

From the city's standpoint, the proposed agreement will help meet a critical housing need for seniors, while preserving open space and expanding public recreational areas, said City Manager Tim Casey.

"So often today, cities and school districts start knocking heads and calling in their lawyers to resolve squabbles over what to do with surplus sites," he said. "I think this agreement can serve as a model of what two agencies can achieve by working together for mutual goals."

Officials said overall income estimates on the project cannot be made until developers submit bids on the Andrews and McCandless properties, but Parras predicted that the lease income would far exceed the $3.6-million appraised value of the Franklin site alone.

Casey said the city has the capital reserves and projected income to "comfortably" meet payments under the $1.5-million lease agreement proposed for the Franklin property. He said the payments would be made over a six-year period.

Various site proposals include:

- Andrews--Commercial development with Artesia Boulevard frontage, 135 senior apartments on a residential parcel and expansion of the Andrews playing field. The city and district will swap portions of land to create the best shape for the development.

- McCandless--Commercial development at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Emerald or Garnet avenues, plus a parcel for senior apartments or a congregate care facility. The city will promote development for this and the Andrews project through tax-exempt bonds, if pending federal legislation permits, and will also provide rent subsidies for the senior housing.

- Franklin--City will lease the seven-acre site, at a total cost of $1.5 million paid over a period of six years, for recreational, community and other public purposes. At the end of 99 years, the property will revert to the school district if needed.

- Patterson--City will maintain community resource center under a new five-year lease at an annual fee of $100,000.

- Beryl, Madison and Jefferson--City will replace asphalt with grass at all three sites, and the improved areas will be available for both school and community recreational use. A staggered schedule is planned, since the three campuses are still used as public schools.

Officials also are studying the feasibility of tearing up the asphalt at the Birney school and replacing it with turf to expand recreational space in that neighborhood.

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