The developer of Staples Center is rushing to get final approval of its massive second phase entertainment/retail /hotel project before outgoing Los Angeles City Council members and Mayor Richard Riordan leave office on June 30.

Failure to meet that deadline could result in months of potentially costly delays to the sprawling arena-adjacent project.

L.A. Arena Land Co. cleared the first hurdle in its sprint by gaining Planning Commission approval last week. But it must still win over the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, the full City Council and Mayor Riordan before June 30 to avoid putting its plans on hold while new representatives get up to speed.

"Our focus has been on getting sort of across the finish line by the end of June," said Ted Tanner, senior vice president of L.A. Arena. "We obviously have a huge investment in this property and hope that we can move forward."

With an estimated cost of $1 billion, phase two of the project is designed to include a 1,200-room hotel, 7,000-seat performing arts theater, up to 800 apartments and several retail stores, restaurants, offices and more. It also contains plans for an expansion of the L.A. Convention Center and the construction of a 600-room hotel.

The project is expected to take between eight and 10 years to complete and would replace parking lots to the north and east of Staples Center.

The expansion would mostly be financed by billionaire Philip Anschutz's company, Anschutz Entertainment Group, and News Corp.'s Fox Group. Developer Ed Roski Jr. plays a relatively small part in the deal.

Staples officials said they do not plan to depend on any public subsidies for their part of the project, but that some subsidies may be requested to help finance the larger of the two hotels, for which a developer has yet to be selected.

Public funds were used in the development of Staples Center, secured by letters of credit from L.A. Arena Land Co.

Community input

Hoping to help move the approval process forward, the developer is working with community members to gain general public support for the second phase.

L.A. Arena Land officials and a coalition of local organizations, residents and unions could reach agreement on a "community benefits package" as early as this week that would establish standards for everything from hiring practices to affordable housing for the project, officials said.

Negotiations between the developer and the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice, a group representing the estimated 200,000 residents living in the area, began last year and officials said last week they had reached "an agreement in principle" and had only to work out the details.

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