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SIGNAL HILL : Developer Abandons Hilltop Housing Efforts

March 10, 1994|JOHN POPE

The development company that has feuded with city officials for years over plans to build on 125 acres of hilltop land--the small city's prime resource--has been replaced.

Irvine-based Southwest Diversified Inc., has left the city to coordinate other projects, a company spokesman said. The Signal Hill project will be taken over by Southwest's financial partner, Coscan-Davidson Homes.

City officials said the shift will have little direct impact on plans to build 525 dwellings--a mix of apartments, condominiums and houses--on the hill. Construction on the first phase, a 42-unit condominium at the base of the hill near Cherry Avenue, is scheduled to begin by May.

But City Councilman Gerard Goedhart said that because of strained past relations, the change will be "a positive move forward for the project."

Southwest sued Signal Hill twice after the city blocked the developer's plans for higher-density development. The first lawsuit was settled out of court in 1990, and the second was dropped after Southwest finally agreed to the scaled-back plan in 1992.

The company also came under fire that year when several council members who were seeking reelection claimed the developer was trying to influence voters to support candidates sympathetic to its agenda. Southwest officials denied the charges. The candidates in favor of slow growth retained control of the council.

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