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Arts District Cleantech Corridor Site Finally Sells

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The Community Redevelopment Agency yesterday delivered a significant wrinkle in the long-discussed but never quite realized vision for the 21 acre Cleantech Manufacturing Center in the Arts District. The CRA/LA unanimously agreed to sell the site for $15.4 million (the same price they bought it for in 2007) to developer Trammell Crow, a division of CBRE Group Inc. The former Crown Coach automaker site at Santa Fe Avenue and Washington Boulevard has had close calls before, most notably with Italian rail-car maker AnsaldoBreda Inc., but so-close yet so-far failures also included Santa Clara-based solar panel maker Applied Materials Inc., LA-based electronic car manufacturer Coda Automotive Inc., and Culver City-based developer Genton Property. The corridor already is home to the CRA/LA-backed Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, and electric-technology manufacturer BYD recently opened its North American headquarters nearby.

As detailed by the Los Angeles Business Journal, the site is home to more than 130 years of environmental degradation--starting with a train depot in the 1880s and continuing as Crown Coach in the 1930s. About 40,000 tons of contaminated soil were hauled off in 1992, but since then contaminants such as trichloroethylene ("a volatile organic liquid used to clean metal parts") and other heavy metals have been found down to 80 feet below ground. And it could go much deeper, possibly as low as 220 feet. According to the LABJ, the clean-up just for the deep stuff is estimated at more than $3.3 million.

According to a press release about the sale, the CRA/LA will clean up the contamination using state remediation funds. Trammell Crow will have to get the necessary environmental clearances once the deal goes through. TC will also have to create up to 100 living-wage jobs or lease at least 140,000 square feet of the space to cleantech companies--if it doesn't, it'll have to pay the CRA/LA up to $1 million more. Trammell Crow will also have to to hire local workers, provide living-wage jobs, spend $100,000 marketing the site to cleantech companies who might lease there, and build to LEED Silver certification. Construction "could begin as soon as the end of 2012."

And for those of you wondering how the CRA/LA is making deals with that pesky stay on redevelopment contracts--they're tentatively approving the deal now so that it can through quickly once the stay is lifted. (A decision on the court case regarding redevelopment agencies is due January 15.) The City Council will also have to approve the deal.
· Developers Wash Hands of Dirty ‘Clean-Tech’ Site [Los Angeles Business Journal]
· Metro's Rail Car Deal is Dead, What About That Manufacturing Land Downtown? [Curbed LA]