City Purchases 6-acre Albion Dairy Site for River Park

September 22, 2009 § 6 Comments

I was really excited to hear that the city was voting to purchase the Albion Dairy site earlier today, so I did my first ever blog from my phone – actually from council chambers. Here’s the follow-up story with lots more details and links.

First let me say thanks to all involved! Credit for this excellent purchase goes to City Councilmember Ed Reyes, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and also staff from the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Pubic Works Department Bureaus of Engineering and Sanitation, and the City Attorney’s office. Thanks to the mayoral Director of Capital Projects Christopher Espinosa and to Council Deputy Monica Valencia for providing background information to L.A. Creek Freak.

Albion Dairy Site. Dark green is new acquisition, light green is existing Downey Park.

Albion Dairy Site. Dark green is new acquisition, light green is existing Downey Park. Los Angeles River runs vertically on the left.

The Albion Dairy site is a 6.34-acre site located on the northeast side of the Los Angeles River in Lincoln Heights (google map here.) The triangular parcel extends from North Spring Street to nearly North Main Street. It’s adjacent to Downey Park and Recreation Center, and across the river from Los Angeles State Historic Park.

It’s currently in operation as a dairy, but there’re no cows there – it’s more of a distribution center and warehouse sort of thing, with lots of trucks picking up dairy goods. It’s operated by Dean Foods under the Ross Swiss Dairy label; the existing lease of the site will remain through January 2011.

The city has been in negotiations for a few years. I remember hearing some inklings of a project there in 2007 or so… but it wasn’t until today that I heard that the deal had been finalized. At the meeting of the full Los Angeles City Council this morning, the vote was unanimous to approve $17.4M in Proposition O funding for site aquisition and clean-up. The actual vote today was to shift $12.5M from another pot of money already approved for Taylor Yard to add to $5M that had already been approved for the Albion site. The full council action is detailed in this 7-page report and 1-page addendum from the city’s Administrative Officer (CAO.)  The CAO report includes aquisition major deal points, cost breakdowns, and a brief project description. There’s also a 1-page project description sheet from the city’s Bureau of Sanitation.

One interesting and far-sighted aspect of the deal, told to me by Espinosa, is that the owner was helpful in consolidating a Union Pacific railroad easement that runs diagonally through the site, and forms a panhandle into the area along the Downey Park pool (the panhandle is visible at the top of the image above.) With this easement included in the city’s purchase, the city can expand Downey Park to about 10-acres – both above and below North Spring Street. Downey Park has always been adjacent to the river, but never really pertained to it or connected with it. The expanded park property will include water quality features, likely some sort of natural area that would treat street run-off before it enters the river.

It’s going to be a while before the expanded Downey Park opens to the public (and this is probably a good thing with the city’s current major budget woes.) The site will continue to service its dairy business until early 2011. At that point, the city will clean up lingering toxics at the site, which likely exist from industrial uses that pre-dated the current dairy. Then a new Los Angeles River park will be built!

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