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U.S. to Remove Barrier to Site's Sale : Pomona: Federal action on General Dynamics facility is expected to pave way for its eventual redevelopment.

March 23, 1995|DENISE HAMILTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The U.S. General Services Administration is expected to declare the former General Dynamics site in Pomona as surplus federal property today, paving the way for its eventual sale and redevelopment.

Vacant, rusting and choked by weeds, the 166-acre site has lain abandoned since Hughes Missile Systems Co., which bought General Dynamics, pulled up stakes in 1994 and relocated more than 2,000 employees to Tucson, Ariz.

"It's a very significant step," said Darrell George, Pomona's economic development director. "We've been waiting at least a year for this to happen. Now we can finally begin to talk about a future for the site."

Pomona now must decide whether it wants to buy the vacant site for eventual resale or redevelopment or help the GSA sell it outright to private or public entities.

"The city might be interested," George said. "If we purchase the site, we could control every facet of what happens."

GSA officials were not available for comment earlier this week.

But Pomona city officials say they expect to move quickly during the next 120 days. The council already has approved a $27,000 contract with Economic Research Associates/Michael Popwell Associates, a Los Angeles appraisal firm, to determine the value of the land, which could range from $10 million to $40 million.

The GSA is doing its own appraisal to determine the fair market value of the property, which is owned by the U.S. Navy.

George envisions that the site, which is located at West Mission Boulevard and the Corona Expressway, will eventually include a mix of public and private use, including industrial, retail and recreational facilities, possibly a 10-acre sports complex with a baseball field, a gymnasium and tennis courts.

"There is significant private interest in the site," George said, "but until now I haven't been able to do anything about it because I don't have control of the site."

Disposing of the property has taken so long because federal law requires that the land be offered for sale first to federal agencies. When that drew no buyers, the GSA was free to declare the land surplus federal property.

The land has long belonged to the Navy, which had leased it to General Dynamics.

The site now will be offered to local agencies such as the city of Pomona and transportation or water companies. After that, private firms will be allowed to bid on the property, which the law dictates must be sold at fair market value.

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