DreamWorks Closes Escrow
As expected, DreamWorks SKG closed escrow on its acquisition of 47 acres at Playa Vista, where it plans to build what will be the first new L.A. movie studio since the Great Depression.
DreamWorks agreed to pay Playa Capital $20 million for the site, and the company hopes to open its new studio complex by the fall of 2001. The estimated cost of the studio is as much as $275 million.
On the surrounding 1,000-plus acres, Playa Capital plans to develop 13,000 housing units, office space, hotels and recreation facilities while preserving 200 acres of wetlands.
DreamWorks first announced its intention to build a studio at Playa Vista in 1995, but the project repeatedly bogged down due to financial difficulties and infighting among various principals, as well as protests from residents and environmentalists.
HMOs Ordered to Retain Drugs
State officials denied requests from six major health maintenance organizations and health insurers to drop a number of drugs from their prescription plans.
HMOs impacted by the Department of Corporations’ action include Health Net of Woodland Hills and Kaiser Permanente, two of the largest care providers in the state.
Among the 21 drugs that state regulators say must be kept on HMO formularies are the top-selling antidepressant Prozac and ulcer treatment Prilosec.
Patient advocates praised the move, saying many of the drugs are crucial for patients’ health and should be paid for by HMOs. However, the state did allow HMOs to delete from their formularies about 130 drugs for new health plan enrollees.
Arco to Pay for Cleanup
A federal judge ended a 16-year court battle by approving a $260 million settlement between Atlantic Richfield Co. and the state of Montana over mining and smelter pollution in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin.
The 130-mile stretch has been designated as the largest Superfund cleanup site in the nation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Los Angeles-based Arco inherited the problem in the 1970s when it bought Anaconda Co., which conducted mining operations along the river. Montana sued in 1983, seeking $765 million to restore the river basin to its original condition of 100 years ago, before settlers first began digging for gold, silver and copper.
Software Firm Being Bought
Pacific Palisades-based Goldmine Software Corp., which makes software to track business contacts and customer services, has agreed to be acquired by a Colorado company for $83 million in cash and stock.
The combined firm to be called GoldMine Software is to be based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Marketing and public relations units will remain in Pacific Palisades.
The local firm is being purchased by Bendata Inc. of Colorado Springs, a subsidiary of Ixchange Technology Holdings, a public company based in South Africa. If the deal goes through, the combined firm would have $52 million in annual revenue and 350 employees.
State Audit Targets LAUSD
A joint legislative committee ordered an audit of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s use of emergency government funds to move much of its business operations into a downtown L.A. high-rise.
Assemblyman Scott Wildman, D-Los Angeles, who chairs the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, has accused the district of exaggerating claims of earthquake damage to its old business center. He believes the claims following the 1994 Northridge quake were a way for the district to justify its signing of a $38.7 million office lease at the IBM Tower on Bunker Hill.
School officials have said the emergency money was used properly after engineering studies determined the district’s South San Pedro Avenue business center could suffer even more damage in a moderate temblor.
Feds Approve Air Carrier
National Airlines Inc. began accepting reservations after receiving federal approval to enter the hotly contested Los Angeles-Las Vegas market currently dominated by Southwest Airlines.
National plans four daily flights between Los Angeles and McCarron International Airport in Las Vegas beginning May 27, with two additional daily flights scheduled to begin in June.
Officials with National said they intend to establish a foothold in the crowded market by providing an LAX-Las Vegas leg for foreign carriers looking to offer service to the Nevada city.
Southwest now operates 16 daily flights between the cities. United Airlines and AmericaWest also offer service.
Valley Bond Vote Analyzed
An analysis of election results revealed that a $744 million bond to improve police and fire facilities collected just 47.5 percent of the vote in the four all-Valley council districts, compared with 66.9 percent in the other 11 city districts.
The defeat of Proposition 1 was characterized by some observers as proof of a widening rift between the Valley and the rest of Los Angeles one they say won’t be resolved until the issue of secession is settled.
“When you’re in the middle of a potential divorce, you don’t go out and get a big mortgage,” said Richard Close, president of Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment, the group that launched the secession movement.
However, Mayor Richard Riordan, who campaigned for the bond measure, blamed the defeat on poor voter turnout and anti-tax sentiment, and said secessionist sentiment in the Valley had no impact on the outcome.
Education Tenants Get Housing
The L.A. City Council decided to turn over hundreds of surplus Navy homes in the San Pedro area to several education tenants, including a Catholic college and a UCLA research institute that would house a biotech park.
The 545 homes once housed military personnel assigned to the now-closed Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
Under the measure approved by the council, 109 dwellings would be allocated for homeless and affordable housing programs, with the rest going to projects like UCLA’s Research and Educational Institute and an academic resource center for Marymount College.
The plan must now be approved by the federal government. Negotiations will take place to determine how much, if any, the new tenants will pay.
Gas Co. Makes Investment
Southern California Gas Co., the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, has agreed to invest $7.5 million in Plug Power, a residential fuel-cell developer.
Since June, privately held Plug Power has operated the world’s first fuel-cell-powered home with a system designed to supply all electricity needs of the average-sized house, independent of the electric utility grid.
Another investor in Plug Power is DTE Energy Co., the parent of Detroit Edison, Michigan’s largest electric utility.
Compiled by Danny Pollock