Calling it a milestone in Norwalk history, the City Council unanimously approved a $70-million hotel project near the Civic Center on the former Wright Elementary School site.
The project by Redondo Beach-based London Pacific Investments will include a 175-room hotel with restaurant and ballroom space, a movie theater, several retail stores, a six-story office building and a 168-unit condominium complex. The development, which has been almost eight years in planning, is the largest undertaken by the city.
Approval of the development also settles the fate of the 20-acre school, which was closed in 1978 and put up for sale in 1979 by the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District. The developer is buying the property from the district for $9.1 million.
"We just passed a milestone in the city. We're off and running," Councilman Cecil N. Green said.
Besides the various zoning and planning approvals, the council still needs to consider a development agreement and other minor approvals before construction can begin. City officials said the agreement will come before the council within the next two months.
The developer's first plan was dealt a setback last year when the Norwalk Planning Commission rejected the project due to parking and design concerns. The developer appealed to the City Council, which sent the proposal back to the commission for further study.
A revised plan--with a key change in the residential portion--was submitted by London Pacific in January. The Planning Commission approved the second plan last month. The main change was switching from a 232-unit apartment complex to 168 condominiums.