SOUTH GATE — A $5.1-million federal grant has been given to the city to help it develop a business and industrial park at the site of the former General Motors assembly plant.
"This should make the development a lot smoother. This will help us get it done," said Mayor John F. Sheehy.
Sheehy and other city officials say the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) is the stimulus needed to hasten the development of the $66-million retail and industrial complex planned for the 90-acre site.
"This is what will make it go. This is the catalyst," said City Administrator Bruce Spragg.
Sen. Wilson Credited
Sheehy credited Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) with getting the grant for South Gate. The city had applied for the money in August but was turned down.
"It took a lot of doing on the senator's part to get this going. We are grateful and thankful," Sheehy said.
The bulk of the federal UDAG funding, which comes through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, went to older Eastern and Midwestern cities last year, said Lynda Royster, deputy press secretary for Wilson. She said Wilson's office made another plea on South Gate's behalf two weeks ago and was told Tuesday that the money had been granted to the city.
The grants are given to economically depressed urban areas with high unemployment and extensive blight to help develop businesses and create jobs.
South Gate will use the money for improvements, including constructing two water wells, water transmission lines, sewer lines and lighting.
Demolition Under Way
Demolition, which started last April on the 50-year-old plant, is scheduled for completion next month. Construction will probably began in June or July, according to May Wong Hui, city economic development manager. Construction will be done in phases and is expected to take more than four years, she said.
Off-site improvements, including construction of three new streets, curbs, gutters, and storm drains, will probably take up to 18 months, Hui said. Construction of the first four buildings is expected to start about the same time, said a spokeswoman for one of the developers.
The site is being developed as a joint venture with the Community Redevelopment Agency of South Gate, Goldrich & Kest Industries of Culver City, Sheldon Appel Co. of Santa Monica and the East Los Angeles Community Union, known as Telacu.
The first four buildings, which will be between 80,000 and 90,000 square feet each on about 18 acres, will house light manufacturing and retail distribution facilities, said Maureen Steiner, project coordinator with Sheldon Appel.
Shopping Center Planned
The completed project, Steiner said, is expected to include 1.2 million square feet of industrial, light manufacturing and retail distribution facilities, along with a 23-acre shopping center. The shopping center will include a major supermarket and drug store and some smaller retail stores, she said.
Steiner said developers were in negotiation with "several tenants" for the shopping center and are close to "securing a grocery market tenant."
Construction of the South Gate Business and Industrial Park is expected to create about 2,700 jobs in light industrial, warehousing, office and retail areas, said Hui.
The GM plant was the city's largest employer. More than 4,000 people lost their jobs when it closed in 1982.
Under an agreement approved by GM officials, the plant was sold to the city for $7 million in January, 1986. The city resold the plant to the developers for $12 million.