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WILLOWBROOK : Condominium Plan Draws Citizens' Ire

October 25, 1992|DUKE HELFAND

The Los Angeles County Community Development Commission plans to build 41 single-family condominiums near Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, but current residents of the site contend that the plans will deprive them of their property rights.

The CDC plans to develop the Willowsprings project, along 120th Street between Wilmington and Willowbrook avenues, in three phases. The agency owns a 1.3-acre site at the northeast corner of Wilmington Avenue and 120th Street for its Phase I construction of 10 units, which will begin next May. But nine properties along 120th Street, eight with homes on them, still need to be acquired to build the remaining units.

CDC officials said they are required by state redevelopment law to pay the landowners fair market value for their properties. But residents said they will not be able to get top dollar for their land because the CDC has not provided independent appraisals.

Of the eight property owners who live on 120th Street, six oppose the CDC's plan, said Jowell Bean, a homeowner.

The three- and four-bedroom Phase I condominiums, which are expected to sell for $130,000 to $137,000, also will devalue the neighborhood because they will be purchased by absentee landlords for rental use, Bean and other residents said.

"We will have no value in our property if people know there are going to be tenants here," Bean said. "The county has not addressed us before trying to circle us with this tremendous plan for improvement."

But Corde Carrillo, the CDC's manager of economic development and redevelopment, said the project will help improve vacant lots that now sit idle.

Carrillo said the homeowners also can review any appraisals of their properties that are paid for by the CDC.

"They can have their own appraisal if they want," Carrillo said. "That is not a problem."

Carrillo said he was hopeful that the residents and the CDC will be able to negotiate prices for their properties.

But both Carrillo and the residents note that the agency can force the landowners to sell their properties through the eminent domain process. In that case, the CDC would have to hold hearings and show that the project would benefit the community.

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