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Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

LANCASTER - The city of Lancaster is selling its last lot in the Lancaster Business Park, a major milestone for a project derided as a white elephant when the city took it over during the recession of the 1990s.

Lancaster's redevelopment agency is selling 2.19 acres for $202,500 to a West Los Angeles clothing manufacturer for a headquarters that will employ 20 or 30 workers.

While the deal is relatively small in terms of employment, the sale of the last city-owned lot is vindication for city officials who approved the acquisition of the business park in the 1990s. At the time, city officials believed the park would turn into a major employment center despite critics who said it would only drain city resources.

``What we predicted has come true,'' said Mayor Frank Roberts. ``We've weathered the storm, the property is gone. This is going to be one of the great areas for employment.''

The business park is now home to over 85 companies that collectively employ over 3,000 workers. The newest company will be KoKo and Fashion Field Inc., which is buying the city lot at the northwest corner of Business Center Parkway and Avenue L.

The company's building will include a combination of both manufacturing and warehouse space and perhaps space for lease, if there is room available.

The business park was created in the early 1980s to lessen the Antelope Valley's dependence on the ``boom-or-bust'' aerospace industry. But it fell on hard times in the 1990s.

After struggling with bond payments, the nonprofit Lancaster Economic Development Corp., which oversaw the business park, sold off its assets in the park to the city in 1998 and dissolved.

When the city acquired the business park, it assumed $3.1 million in bond debt. The bonds had been issued several years ago to finance street improvements and the installation of water lines for an 80-acre expansion of the complex.

``Had the agency not led this development, Lancaster might now not be the home of Lance Campers (450 jobs), Deluxe Check Printers (400 jobs), Robert F. Chapman (100 jobs), Signature Fundraising (200 jobs) and Countrywide Home Loans (1,500 jobs at build-out),'' Mark Bozigian, Lancaster's redevelopment agency director, said in a report to the City Council.

The city will still have a role to play in the ongoing development of the business park. The city still owns the park's ``incubator'' building, which leases out space to start-up businesses, and the city could have a role in assisting in the development of other parcels.

``We will still continue to actively market and develop the business park,'' Bozigian said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Apr 27, 2003

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