LONG BEACH — In its race with the City of Signal Hill, the City Council committed $100,000 Tuesday to study the feasibility of building an auto mall.
While the city studies the possibility of forming a redevelopment project area for a mall, six auto dealers have agreed they "will not talk with anyone for six months to see what we can put together," Mayor Ernie Kell said.
The dealers have discussed moving to Signal Hill, where officials also are scrambling to build an auto mall. Most of the six dealerships are on Long Beach Boulevard, which they say fails to attract shoppers, is surrounded by deteriorating neighborhoods and plagued with a high crime rate. The Los Angeles-to-Long Beach light rail line that will run along Long Beach Boulevard will kill off any remaining business, the dealers have said.
If the auto dealerships leave Long Beach, they will take with them an estimated $2.8 million a year in sales taxes.
The $100,000 will finance a study of a 78-acre area bounded generally by the San Diego (405) Freeway, Willow Street, Walnut Avenue and California Avenue. The proposed site may face similar problems to those Signal Hill is tackling, including soil contaminated by oil, Long Beach officials said.