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VALLEY FOCUS | Sylmar

City OKs Loan for Transit Station Access

April 01, 1998|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

The Los Angeles City Council approved a $300,000 loan to the developers of a planned housing project for widening the main access street to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station.

The loan, which comes out of the city's Proposition C Local Transit Assistance budget, will be repaid either with a federal transportation grant or by the developers, city officials said.

Councilman Richard Alarcon, who represents the area, said the developers of the Westfield Village Housing Development were not asked to pay the cost of the road work because it would have made it financially difficult for them to complete the project.

The development includes about 186 single-family homes on the east side of Frank Modugno Drive, across from the Metrolink station, on a lot approved for as many as 240 condominiums.

Alarcon said he was willing to work with the developer to help secure the Proposition C start-up funds because he was interested in having individual houses on the site, rather than multiunit buildings.

"If the developer had had to put up all the money, he probably would have demanded 240 condos," Alarcon said.

The road, now a two-lane street with access to the station on the west side, will probably be widened to four lanes, city officials said.

The increased traffic from the project and from ever-rising use of the station makes it necessary to widen the street, officials said.

"At the time we built the station, we did not expect such a great usage," said James Okazaki, chief of transit for the city's transportation department. "What we were hoping for, and what we got, was a developer near this project that is willing to help do this work."

Funds for the road improvement are included in the next congressional Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, and the Proposition C account might be reimbursed from that, Alarcon said.

But the developers--Lee Group Inc. and Braemar Urban Ventures--have promised to repay the loan if the item is cut from the federal bill.

Alarcon said the developer has received other government money to help build the project, including $1.4 million in Economic Development Initiative funds.

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