A company hired by the cities of West Covina and Walnut to create a master plan for 1,207 acres, including the BKK landfill, announced Wednesday that it will recommend that homes valued at $300,000 and up, restaurants, a golf course, offices and a hotel be built on the property.
Under the proposal, much of the 583-acre dump, including all of the area where toxic waste is buried, would become landscaped open space. The other land, all owned by BKK Corp. and divided between West Covina and Walnut, would have a mixture of uses, but the hotel and homes would be kept at least 2,000 feet from the dump.
Richard Ramella, a partner with the Planning Center of Newport Beach, which devised the plan, said the proposed development is valued at about $500 million. The business park would employ as many as 6,000 workers when fully developed in 15 years, he said.
The Planning Center developed the plan for West Covina and Walnut, but even if those cities approve it, implementation must rest with the property owner, the BKK Corp.
Robert Levy, a spokesman for BKK, said the company is "conservatively optimistic" about the plan.
He said BKK officials believe that it makes sense to use a large chunk of the property for a business park. "We believe the economics are there to make a business park work," he said.
Ramella conceded that BKK Corp. will face a marketing problem in developing the site because of the dump, which contains more than 3.4 million tons of hazardous waste. BKK Corp. closed the dump to hazardous waste in 1984 after 21 families had to be evacuated when their homes were endangered by landfill gas, and has agreed to shut down the dump entirely within 10 years. But the dump remains a target of lawsuits and a source of controversy in West Covina.
"Obviously we have to eliminate that image," Ramella said.
Another drawback to the property, he said, is its distance from a freeway. It lies east of Azusa Avenue, midway between the Pomona and San Bernardino freeways.
"We needed something extra special to attract people to the site," he said.
The solution recommended by the Planning Center is a plan that emphasizes open space and landscaping. The plan sets aside 144 acres for an 18-hole golf course and 393 acres in other open space.
The golf course would include a clubhouse on the north side of the property and the course itself would weave through the business park, which would consist of office buildings of one and two stories. The plan includes four restaurants and sets aside three acres for a small commercial center.
Ramella said the initial plan covers 692 of the 1,207 acres, including all of the West Covina acreage. The plan for the remaining property in Walnut is still being formulated, but the emphasis will be on homes, mostly in the $300,000-or-more price range, he said.
A marketing study by Robert Charles Lesser & Co. indicates a strong demand for upper-income housing in the area, Ramella said.
The state Department of Health Services has recommended against construction of housing within 2,000 feet of the hazardous-waste dump area until more is known about the health effects of living there. BKK Corp. has agreed to abide by the recommendation.
The hotel, which would have 200 to 250 rooms, would occupy a four-acre hilltop site in Walnut.
The initial concepts consisting of the West Covina property and part of the Walnut acreage were submitted Wednesday to the West Covina and Walnut planning commissions. The Planning Center will submit specific land-use plans, an environmental impact report and an economic analysis to West Covina in late September and to Walnut shortly thereafter. In West Covina, both the Planning Commission and the city's commission on the landfill will review the proposals.
The plan for the remaining acreage in Walnut, which may include some clustered housing but mostly will consist of single-family homes on large lots, will be submitted to Walnut later this month, Ramella said.