Leaders hope to attract jobs to Times plant

first_imgSan Fernando Valley business leaders and city officials, often at odds over development issues, are pledging a coordinated effort to attract high-paying jobs to the 26-acre Los Angeles Times printing facility that is closing early next year. While it’s still early in the process, some business executives and city officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, agree the initial emphasis should be on luring high-wage manufacturing jobs to the Chatsworth site on Prairie Street between Corbin and Winnetka avenues. “It’s a beautiful piece of property, and this will be our highest priority as business development goes, probably for the coming year,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith, whose district includes Chatsworth. “I think if anybody came to me and said, we want to put a retail center there, I would probably say no. But … it’s kind of early to tell.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The Times announced last week that it was ending a costly foray into the Valley that began more than 20 years ago. The company plans to shut the facility, consolidate printing operations at three other locations outside the Valley, eliminate 110 jobs and put the 250,000-square-foot building and land up for sale in early 2006. The parcel is zoned for industrial use, and Smith wants his staff and Villaraigosa’s business team to map out a recruitment and development strategy. “Obviously, it’s a valuable property and it is something the city can’t afford to let go to waste,” Villaraigosa said. “What I want to see are ways we can create more high-paying jobs for the San Fernando Valley.” The mayor said he’s instructed his business team to meet with Times executives to see how they can take advantage of this development opportunity. “At this very early stage, it appears there’s been a significant amount of interest in the property,” Times spokesman David Garcia said in an e-mail response to questions. Trammell Crow’s downtown office will handle the sale. Onno Zwaneveld, a Trammell Crow senior vice president, said the company is just starting its pricing and use-evaluation process and then deciding what the best use would be. “We want to understand what the alternative uses would be by right given the existing zoning and talk to the city and see what other uses they would consider for the property,” he said. Bruce Ackerman, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, said that given its location, adjacent rail line and room for expansion, the site is a natural for some type of manufacturing operation. “We want to be plugged into it,” he said. “We want to do what we can to make sure it’s a high-quality job generator. The biggest fear we have is it gets … turned into a big-box retailer, which is not the highest and best use for that locality.” Bud Ovrum, deputy mayor for economic development, said the site has been underutilized as a printing facility. It is also important to preserve the city’s job base so an incentive package will likely be put together, he said. “It’s a site that really lends itself to hitting a home run because it’s that much land with very few jobs on it,” he said. Commercial brokers familiar with the property are not sure what would be built there, saying retail and residential uses are the least likely, while office and industrial uses make sense. John Sabourin, a broker at the commercial firm Studley, said it’s rare for a parcel this big to come on the market in the middle of the Valley. “That would just be a natural location for more industrial,” he said. John DeGrinis, senior vice president at Colliers International’s office in Encino, has already discussed the property with the listing agent. He said he thinks an office campus might make more sense and since the building is configured for a newspaper printing operation, it’s a tear-down candidate. High-tech manufacturing might be a stretch. “Over the last five or six years since the high-tech wreck, we have not seen a lot of significant activity from those users,” he said. “They currently have excess capacity.” Staff Writer Rick Orlov contributed to this story. Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 greg.wilcox@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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