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Anaheim to Seek Land for Transit Hub

The city and Orange County will negotiate the sale of 14 acres near Angel Stadium for a bus and train station. One estimate: $41 million.

October 19, 2005|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

County leaders agreed Tuesday to negotiate the sale of a prime, 14-acre parcel to Anaheim for a future transportation hub near Angel Stadium and the Arrowhead Pond.

The city has ambitious plans for the area around the sports venues, envisioning a mix of shops, lofts and office towers. In all, 9,000 condominiums and apartments and 7 million square feet of office and retail space are planned.

Dubbed the "Platinum Triangle," the 807-acre triangle of land, which includes the 14-acre parcel for sale, is wedged between the Santa Ana Freeway and the Santa Ana River. City officials said it was an ideal spot for a train and bus depot.

"The city has always been interested in this site; it's really essential," said Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle.

After months of preparation and discussions between the two sides, County supervisors unanimously approved beginning negotiations Monday. One county appraisal values the site at about $41 million, or roughly $3 million an acre. The land is zoned for government use only.

The transportation center would be a regional hub, serving as a major bus depot, a future Metrolink station and a staging area for proposed high-speed trains linking Anaheim to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The land is now occupied by the county's public works operations center, where emergency road equipment is stored.

If the land is sold, the county will relocate its public works yard to the other side of the Santa Ana River or to county-owned property at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

Pringle said that what made the 14-area location crucial to the city's plans was that it was adjacent to the Metrolink rail line and the river, as well as Angel Stadium, the Arrowhead Pond and the Grove of Anaheim, a concert hall.

Development would take several years, starting with relocation of the Metrolink station, now at the northeast corner of the baseball stadium parking lot. Eventually, the center would be a hub for bus rapid transit, resort shuttles and high-speed trains, said Gary E. Johnson, Anaheim public works director.

The city plans to use a variety of funding sources to pay for the center, including money from the Orange County Transportation Authority. Last week, OCTA shelved the controversial CenterLine project and redirected more than $60 million to other projects, including improving Metrolink facilities.

Federal funding could not be found for the $1-billion CenterLine, which would have run 9.3 miles from John Wayne Airport to the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center.

Supervisor Chris Norby, whose district includes the triangle, called the site a "very strategic location" for regional transportation needs.

Norby cited plans for the two high-speed trains. A magnetic levitation train is still being planned by a Nevada state commission that hopes to build a 270-mile line from Las Vegas to Anaheim. The other is also a high-speed train, using conventional tracks, that would run from Los Angeles to Anaheim.

Anaheim has already expressed special interest in a segment of the Las Vegas magnetic levitation line from Anaheim to Corona and possibly Ontario, Norby said.

"It could take passengers from Anaheim to Corona in 10 minutes," he said.

One sticking point in the land deal is cost. Pringle said $3 million an acre was high.

The land, if sold on the open market, could fetch at least $5 million an acre, Pringle said, and the city should get a deep discount because the project would serve all county residents.

Supervisors said they wanted a guarantee that if Anaheim failed to develop the transportation center, the land would be sold back to the county or a public agency -- not to a developer.

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