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Federal Funds to Upgrade Goodyear Tract

Redevelopment: A $3-million grant, expected to be announced today, will aid huge industrial site.

October 19, 1998|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Once the industrial heart of Los Angeles and a major employment hub, the former Goodyear Tire Tract in South Los Angeles degenerated into an eyesore known for illegal dumping, vacant industrial buildings and crime. But the 208-acre complex--the largest industrial site in the city--is on the rebound.

Today, city officials will announce a $3-million federal grant to fence the tract, install lighting, security cameras and guard kiosks. The grant follows efforts by property owners to form a business improvement district that would pay for continued upkeep. Another grant is pending for environmental cleanup, and police activity has contributed to a sharp decline in crime.

Although parts of the tract now bustle with furniture manufacturers, metals processors and low-end garment contractors, it is still far from full: About 120 businesses operate on the site's 281 parcels.

"This is a strategic public investment that we think will bridge the confidence gap that private investors have in South Los Angeles," said Rocky Delgadillo, deputy mayor for economic development. "It will bring some new jobs to this community."

City officials declined to disclose the grant amount, which Mayor Richard Riordan will announce today. But sources familiar with the deal placed it at just below $3 million. The U.S. Economic Development Administration grant is part of $30 million set aside for business recovery after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

"Although some of the surrounding industrial areas, like Vernon and Commerce, are really strong, the Goodyear tract really lags in rentals and prices for two main reasons: perception of crime and the type of buildings," which are old, with low ceilings and inadequate parking, said CB Richard Ellis associate Jim Halferty. "Any positive is going to start attracting tenants. As surrounding markets start getting real tight on space and more expensive, people who are looking for value are going to start considering this area."

The site was one of the country's largest manufacturing centers for automotive tires and related products during World War II. It declined after the war and as recently as two years ago was "a nightmare," said Sgt. Alexander Gomez of the Los Angeles Police Department. "Some of the streets were impassable because of illegally dumped truckloads of trash--concrete, tires, trees, you name it."

A task force now conducts night surveillance and coordinates with city officials for graffiti removal and street cleaning. Commercial burglaries have dropped about 80%, he said.

City officials hope improvements will lure higher-tech employers to the site, part of a business tax-free zone and a federal empowerment zone that offers benefits to businesses that hire locally.

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