Carson is rethinking plans for a 157-acre former landfill now that the National Football League has spurned that site in favor of building a stadium in Inglewood.
Officials said the city might resort to its fallback plan of partnering with a major commercial developer for the site near the 405 and 110 freeways. But the national attention over the NFL bidding process, which ended with Inglewood as a home for the St. Louis Rams and maybe the San Diego Chargers, put attention on the Carson site and prompted new developers to weigh in.
“We’re not the type of city that cries over spilled milk,” said City Manager Ken Farfsing. “We’re going to continue to work with the developers, but we really want to test the market, too. As soon as the NFL made the decision, the phone started ringing here.”
While losing the NFL vote was a disappointment, Mayor Albert Robles said months of stadium negotiations have put the area in the spotlight and it has now become a serious contender for a major project that would combine offices, restaurants and retail.
“It was a long roller-coaster ride. Many highs and lows,” he said. “It is my hope that we will build a project that may not be as recognizable as an NFL stadium, but it is going to be a signature project for the city of Carson.”
The city had already been pursuing a large mixed-use retail development on the site when the NFL came looking for land, according to Robles. Among the stadium supporters was Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger, appointed in November by the Chargers and Oakland Raiders to spearhead construction on the new stadium if it received approval from the NFL.
In the process, Carson took control of the land, putting it under the management of the Carson Reclamation Authority. But the city won’t be able to take any concrete steps until April, when an agreement with the Chargers and Raiders to develop a stadium will expire.
Meanwhile, many details have yet to be worked out. Farfsing said the City Council this week will discuss extending an existing ban on development of 600 acres surrounding the parcel. The Chargers own 11 acres next to the former landfill, which operated from 1959 to 1965.
Environmental concerns must be considered, too. The soil’s toxicity requires cleanup efforts such as discharging 30,000 gallons of water a day and installing a methane protection system. The remaining remediation needed for a complete cleanup, approved by state Department of Toxic Substances Control, will cost $80 million. Some of it cannot be completed until Carson makes construction plans. Robles said he aims to move quickly once the city gets control of the land in April, and to show plans to residents in the fall.
Along with the national attention Carson has received, the city has already claimed the $250,000 promised by the Chargers and Raiders together in the event that the city lost its stadium bid. Farfsing said the money could fund studies on how to develop the 600 acres surrounding the proposed stadium site.
“When you drive the 405 freeway, you see that we probably have about 700 acres, a lot of it vacant property,” he said. “We think we have a great opportunity to redevelop these properties. You couldn’t buy the advertising that we got from the NFL project.”
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