Irwindale may be getting the Los Angeles Raiders, but Duarte and Azusa want to make sure they are part of the game plan.
At Duarte's urging, the city councils of the three communities will hold a joint meeting this week to begin coordinating possible economic opportunities and trying to ensure a successful move by the Raiders.
The Raiders have a preliminary agreement with Irwindale to build a stadium near Duarte and Azusa, both of which have been contacted by developers searching for space to build hotels, restaurants and shopping centers. The meeting, open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Duarte City Hall, 1600 Huntington Drive.
"Until now, only the staffs of the cities have met," said Duarte City Manager Jesse Duff. "Now we want the councils to get together to explore the areas where we can cooperate."
"Irwindale feels there are more than enough economic development opportunities to go around, so it makes sense to cooperate," Duff said.
Duff said eight developers--three interested in shopping centers, three in hotels and two in restaurants--have approached him about potential sites in Duarte, most seeking parcels larger than 10 acres.
He said three such sites are available: on both sides of Huntington Drive east of Mt. Olive Drive, on the northwest corner of Huntington Drive and Buena Vista Avenue and on Central Avenue fronting the Foothill Freeway where an auto row is planned.
Duarte has entered into a memorandum of understanding with an auto dealer to develop the auto row site, which the city acquired in a land swap with the Duarte Unified School District. But Duff said: "We are not excluding any possibility. Now we are willing to consider a development that could generate the same revenue as an auto row."
Duff declined to disclose the names of the developers but said most of them are confident that the Raiders' deal with Irwindale will not fall through.
Azusa has received general inquiries from developers but no specific proposals, said City Administrator Julio Fuentes.
Fuentes said Azusa is particularly interested in a hotel and that he will meet this week with a developer to discuss such a project on the largely industrial west side of the city.
"We have two or three sites of land that are now vacant and some sites that could be assembled through the redevelopment agency, but we haven't mapped them out," Fuentes said.
"Now it is essentially in the talking stages, but once the Raiders' situation has been settled, there will be a tremendous amount of interest from the developers."
Both Duarte and Azusa are writing letters urging other San Gabriel Valley cities and the County Board of Supervisors to help bring the Raiders to Irwindale.
"In our letters, we are stressing to the Board of Supervisors the importance of keeping the Raiders in Los Angeles County," Duff said.
The Raiders plan to move out of the Los Angeles Coliseum, but if the Irwindale deal--which faces legal and legislative challenges--falls through, other cities have expressed interest.
Hope to Enhance Image
"There is an informal group of city managers here who are talking about enhancing the image of the San Gabriel Valley," Duff said. "Developers and corporations have said this area has no image or identity at all. The Raiders would help us establish an identity and enhance our image."
In a further effort to encourage the Raiders' stadium plans, the Duarte City Council has voted to shelve its application to use land in Irwindale that is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and leased by the county. Duarte submitted plans in 1984 for an equestrian center on the property, which the federal government has earmarked for recreation.
Irwindale wants to use the land for the stadium development, so Duarte voted to notify the Corps of Engineers that it will put its equestrian plans on hold unless the stadium project fails.
Duarte has also held preliminary discussions with Irwindale about financial assistance to bring the Raiders to the site.
However, Duff denied reports that Duarte has offered to contribute more than $1 million to Irwindale.
"We have talked about some financial participation, but no numbers have been discussed," he said. "The concept is the possibility of earmarking tax (revenue) generated by development in Duarte that occurs as a direct result of the Raiders."
No Assistance Asked
Fuentes said Irwindale has not requested financial assistance from Azusa.
Both Duff and Fuentes said traffic will increase on game days, but Duff pointed out that the team would play only about 10 home games a year.
"We have been impressed with the amount of planning on traffic management by Irwindale," Duff said. "The concern now in designing stadiums is fan convenience, so the traffic management issue has high priority."
Most fans will reach the 65,000-seat stadium, to be carved out of an abandoned rock quarry near the Foothill Freeway, from the Irwindale Avenue on- and off-ramps, but Fuentes said some will use the Azusa Avenue ramps.
"There will be benefits," he said, "because people driving through town will stop at our stores and buy. There are potential sales from fans going to and from the game.
"We stand to gain tremendously, and this will be a benefit for everyone in the San Gabriel Valley."