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GARDENA : Controversial Mall Plan Gets Preliminary OK

November 17, 1994|SUSAN WOODWARD

City officials have given preliminary approval to a controversial shopping center development and want construction to begin as soon as possible.

City Council members James W. Cragin, Gwen Duffy, and Mas Fukai approved a draft environmental report on the plan for a 54,000-square-foot Smith's Food & Drug Center last week.

Mayor Donald L. Dear and Councilman Paul Y. Tsukahara did not attend the council meeting.

City Manager Kenneth W. Landau said the city is eager for the development at Artesia Boulevard and Vermont Avenue to begin.

Construction will start as soon as site is leveled, Landau said.

The environmental report has drawn strong criticism from some sections of the community in part because the site is next to a wetland.

The Los Angeles Recreation and Open Space Committee says the environmental report does not adequately assess the development's effects on about seven acres known as the Gardena Willows.

Committee spokesman Frank O'Brien has also questioned the city's role in the plan.

For months, city officials have been negotiating with Sunnyvale developer John Vidovich of De Anza Properties, recently offering him a $1-million tax incentive to bring Smith's to Gardena.

City officials say the center will not harm the adjacent willows. And Fukai said the city has offered sales tax rebates to developers before to encourage them to come to Gardena.

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