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COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Apartment Developer Bids for Forum

Casden Properties wants to use Inglewood site for extensive residential project. Mayor opposes the idea.

May 23, 2000|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of Los Angeles' largest apartment builders has offered to buy the Forum sports and entertainment complex in Inglewood as part of a sprawling residential project.

But the proposal by Beverly Hills-based Casden Properties Inc. has run into opposition from Inglewood Mayor Randolph Dorn, who wants to transform the Forum--the former home of the Lakers basketball team and the Kings hockey franchise--into a convention center or into some other commercial use.

"The community wants the Forum to remain," Dorn said. "It's an icon for the city of Inglewood."

The Forum property at Manchester Boulevard and Prairie Avenue sits immediately north of a nearly 100-acre portion of the Hollywood Park race track that Casden agreed to purchase last month for $63 million. The property is used primarily for parking.

Casden officials confirmed that they have a contract to buy the 29-acre Forum site, which is owned by an affiliate of L.A. Arena Co., which owns Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Officials would not discuss any details, saying only that the Forum property would be developed in concert with the land at Hollywood Park.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 24, 2000 Home Edition Business Part C Page 3 Financial Desk 1 inches; 17 words Type of Material: Correction
Inglewood mayor--The mayor of Inglewood was incorrectly identified in Tuesday's paper. His name is Roosevelt Dorn.

"We would anticipate one integrated development," said Andrew Starrels, Casden senior vice president and general counsel. "It would encompass for-sale housing consisting of both single-family and multifamily" properties.

Dorn said he supports the development of homes and condominiums on the Hollywood Park property. However, Dorn said, he told Casden executives a few weeks ago that he would oppose any residential construction on the Forum site.

"I would love to see it developed into a convention center or [have] a major hotel associated with the Forum or have some other form of commercial development," Dorn said. "Not residential."

The Forum's future has been up in the air since last June, when its previous owner, Jerry Buss, sold the 33-year-old complex to an affiliate of the L.A. Arena Co. in a deal valued at less than $20 million. The building is currently the home to the Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association. The 17,500-seat venue has also hosted a series of events including an Easter Sunday religious service and high school graduations.

Michael Roth, a spokesman for the L.A. Arena Co., said he had no comment on the deal with Casden.

Despite intense demand for housing across Southern California, Inglewood and many other communities continue to favor commercial development because it generates sales taxes and other revenue. Housing developments, in contrast, increase demand for city services without a commensurate hike in revenues, economists and urban planners say.

"This is very symbolic of the land shortage in the urban core of Los Angeles," said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. "We are going to see more of this kind of battle."

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