After five years of planning and numerous delays, construction has begun on a seven-acre, $8.5-million commercial shopping center on Atlantic Avenue between Gage and Randolph avenues.
The Bell Palm Plaza, a joint venture of the city Redevelopment Agency and the Santa Monica-based Watt Commercial Development Co., is expected to be partly open by Christmas.
The project was first delayed by negotiations with the owner of one of the corner parcels, then by an arduous title search. Construction was expected to begin last June but a county soils test had to be performed for possible contamination from abandoned petroleum storage tanks that were once used by a lumber yard. The tanks had been removed from the site in 1987.
Among the stores that will be in the Palm Plaza are J.J. Newberry, Pistol Pete's Pizza and Tres Hermanos, a men's clothing store.
"We're excited about getting started with the Bell Palm Plaza," Mayor Rolf Janssen said. "The developers and city officials have worked long and hard to get to this stage."