COMPTON — A divided City Council agreed this week to sell land in the Compton Auto Plaza to a Mack Truck sales and service franchise, after rejecting an offer two weeks ago from the same firm.
Under the terms of the sale, which was accepted by the council at its meeting Tuesday, Universal Mack Truck Sales and Service Inc. will pay $2.8 million for 6.9 acres at the north end of the auto mall, which is along the 91 Freeway. The company's new offer satisfied the demand by some council members that the city receive fair market value for the land.
When the council rejected the company's first offer--$3.7 million for about 12 acres--some council members said they would accept nothing less than the $4.7-million value established by city appraisers.
Council members have said they do not intend to sell any more of the city's redevelopment land at discount prices, which is a common practice in cities that are competing for developers.
Council members Maxcy Filer, Bernice Woods and Jane Robbins voted for the sale. Mayor Walter Tucker abstained. Councilwoman Patricia Moore voted against the sale. She has contended all along that the city ought to develop a new plan for the auto plaza land that would include other uses such as an entertainment center or an electronics mart.
The company agreed to make a cash down payment of $1 million and pay the balance in monthly installments over the next 12 years. It guaranteed the city $500,000 a year in sales tax revenues.
"I think they can do (that much in sales) easily," said Filer, pointing out that the firm intends to move its Signal Hill and Los Angeles operations to Compton. "That's bringing in $500,000 where nothing is coming in now," Filer said.
The auto mall, which originally opened in 1978, has been a disappointment to the council, which has struggled to lure commercial developers to the economically depressed city. Over the years, dealerships closed their doors, defaulting on their mortgages and other city loans.
Universal Mack plans to build a $2-million facility, which will serve as collateral for the mortgage.
The agreement with Universal Mack may signal the end of the South Central Organizing Committee campaign to build low-cost, owner-occupied housing in the auto plaza. Though the council has repeatedly said it would not use the commercial land for housing, the local political activist group continued to press the city for the land and recently offered $5 million for about 12 acres.