The Downey planning commission yesterday voted unanimously to approve the Tierra Luna Marketplace project and send it on to the city council. Developer Robert Manarino and landowner Industrial Realty Group plan to replace all but one building at the Downey Studios site (formerly a Boeing plant) with 1.1 million square feet of retail, 300,000 square feet of office, a movie theater, and 150 hotel rooms. Building 1, where Apollo rockets were once built, will be adaptively reused. Many of the speakers at yesterday's hearing opposed the project because it fails to pay homage to the distinguished history of the site, "which started as EMSCO just before the Great Depression and eventually ended up being an integral part of the country’s space program," according to the Downey Beat. Many also said they thought the project lacked ambition; one asked “Just to have another shopping center? is that really what we want here?” Many said they preferred Manarino's old plan, which including housing. Manarino responded that "environmental complications precluded any housing at the site."
Manarino grew up in Downey and said his father actually worked at the Downey Studios site. He told the commission "We have tried to adaptively reuse these buildings for 10 years...We tried our best. It does not work. It's unfortunate, but they're economically unfeasible." Planning commissioners admitted they'd also rather have something else at the site (one said "I personally would like a large, high-tech company to plant its roots on this property."), but that Manarino was the only developer interested and they'd long been desperate to turn the property into a moneymaker.
· Planning Commission unanimously approves all proposals in favor of Tierra Luna development at old NASA sight [Downey beat]
· Big Box Stores and More Proposed for Downey Studios Site [Curbed LA]