By Alfredo Santana
LYNWOOD — The city has announced it could receive more than $5 million from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to investigate and clean up 12.3 acres of land that may be used to host retailers and generate new jobs.
One site, long vacated by a former laundromat and a pet shop at 11600 Long Beach Blvd., is slated to get nearly $4.9 million for environmental cleanups as part of the Equitable Community Revitalization Grants signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021.
The 3.78-acre lot has long been suspected of underground pollution that halted potential investments from tenants of retail facilities due to potential liabilities related to environmental and health concerns.
In addition, Lynwood was awarded $242,000 and $184,150, respectively, to run environmental investigations in two other sites that may be found eligible for additional funds to detoxify them if they are deemed overly polluted.
The parcels are located on a site that encompasses the Alameda Triangle, one measuring 2 acres and the second 6.52 acres.
According to records provided by the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the two-acre lot would be used to build a mix of commercial facilities and affordable housing pegged to the area median income, whereas the other may become a transportation hub with a mix of retail units.
A city statement indicated that Lynwood intents to clean the lots to meet commercial environmental standards so they can attract tenants into shops and create new jobs, bring customers and increase commerce.
“This is fantastic news,” said Lynwood Mayor Jorge Casanova. “We are talking nearly eight acres of desirable land for commercial development that can help improve our local economy and give our residents access to retail, restaurants and other shopping.”
To qualify for the grants, Lynwood applied to get evaluation and cleanup of Brownfields, or polluted properties usually abandoned in urban cores and not used due to liability or remediation concerns.
Brownfields include bulldozed parcels that may require environmental detoxification due to loads of metals and cancerous substances prevalent on surfaces or buried underground.
The money would be allocated from a $500 million pool created “to expedite the cleanup and beneficial reuse of contaminated properties, with priority given to properties in historically vulnerable and disadvantages communities,” the Department of Toxic Substances control said on its website.
In its first year of the program’s existence, the Office of Brownfields authorized $75.4 million for environmental mitigations and investigations under the initiative called Cleanup in Vulnerable Communities statewide.
Of those, $57.6 million were awarded for cleanups, $15.7 million for environmental investigations and $2 million for community wide assessments.
Before the environmental cleanup awards, the City Council hired the construction company Lynwood Springs in May to begin designs for a grocery store to be built at 11600 Long Beach Blvd.
A report prepared by City Manager Ernie Hernandez indicates that redevelopment of the lot has been considered for two decades, but previous attempts came to a halt due to the unsafe environmental conditions.
In preparation to render the site fit for a grocery store, the Planning Commission held a public meeting last year that resulted in the approval of permits for sale of alcoholic beverages consistent with supermarket operations, a subdivision into three parcels, a drive-through coffeehouse or restaurant, and the passage of a mitigated negative declaration.
The new commercial facility would also host 167 parking places on a fully paved surface.
“The subject site is primarily a vacant, undeveloped and paved site with approximately eight single-family dwellings to be removed as part of the overall project site,” and falls within the local plans of transportation titled the Lynwood Transit Area Specific Plan, Hernandez wrote.
The development agreement with Lynwood Springs calls for the firm to start construction on or before Aug. 1, 2024, for the city to vacate cult-de-sac portions of Lynwood Road and Lewis Street, and for the Planning Commission to approve use permits and a tentative map.
Additional terms render the commercial developer “solely responsible for the cost and securing” all state, county and local government permits and approvals, and indicate that the contract will end in three years if the project is not completed.
In addition to job creation, the city would reap sizable sales tax and property income. Projections of annual income from both sources could reach $525,000, plus initial fees of $325,000 to cover permits and inspections.
Preliminary blueprints indicate that Northgate Market would anchor the commercial center that abuts an entrance ramp to the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway to the north, Long Beach Boulevard to the west, Louise Street to the south, Lewis Street on the lower east corner and Lynwood Road on the middle-east wing.
Councilwoman Marisela Santana said the commercial development will be a boon for the community, because Lynwood has not witnessed investments that generate job growth south of the Glenn Anderson Freeway in years.
A Starbucks franchisee has already committed to open a new store there, marking the third coffee shop from the multinational chain slated to operate in Lynwood, she said.
“Bringing this development to this side of town will bring life,” Santana said. “This is the forgotten side of town. In the last four years, the new generation of elected officials has cleaned up streets, graffiti, etc. The neighborhood has been taken care of. It’s a good fit for the city of Lynwood.”