The old Redondo Beach Car Wash on Torrance Boulevard will finally be getting a makeover after standing abandoned for almost ten years. The car wash was originally built in the mid-1960s, but has been vacant since closing in 2002.
“It’s just fantastic that we’re finally cleaning up this blight on our city,” district two City Councilman Bill Brand said during the ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday. “Torrance Boulevard is a major thoroughfare and a gateway to our district and this has been a major eye-sore.”
The councilman also said that the new car wash, named The Redondo Auto Spa, will be completed by March 1, 2013.
The new owners, Ken Crow, Chris McKenna and Mike Wuerth, have had their eyes on the lot for over 15 years.
“We finally got a hold of the owner at the right time,” said McKenna. “It all worked and fell into place.”
According to McKenna, the men are planning on building an eco-friendly car wash that will be one of the first hydrogen-cell powered car washes in the country. The old car wash’s footprint of 5,500-square-foot will be downsized to a 3,700-square-foot carwash, and will be a flex-serve operation combining express wash services with traditional full-service. McKenna said he feels that is the direction the industry is going.
“Right now it’s an eyesore, so everybody’s excited to get something up,” said Crow.
The car wash has reportedly been a home for transients over the years since it has been vacant. Graffiti has encroached on the empty walls and weeds have sprouted up in the pavement throughout the property. The building itself is dangerous and has crumbled. One of the promises Brand made when he ran for council was to clean-up the property. Many neighbors that attended the event expressed their gratitude that it would finally be cleaned up.
According to Redondo Beach City Prosecutor Melanie Chivra, Charles Diamond, the owner of the property, is facing 13 misdemeanor charges related to the condition of the property; each could potentially result in 6 months of jail time.
“But we’re not seeking jail time for this one,” Chivra said. “Our goal is to get the property into compliance.”
The criminal charges stem from inspection days on April 9 and May 31, 2012.
“They are generally related to the condition of the property,” Chivra said. “Some of them refer to the structure; some of them refer to the debris on the property… Basically the reason why we filed the case was because the property was in a certain dilapidated condition and residents were able to go on the property and they could get hurt.”
Chivra also added that Diamond was given many chances by code enforcement officials to clean-up the plot, but he effectively ignored them.
Diamond was originally scheduled for an arraignment on September 22, but according to Chivra, neither he nor his attorney showed up and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Diamond and his attorney appeared in court for his second scheduled arraignment Tuesday morning and the warrant was rescinded. His next arraignment is scheduled for September 22.
Diamond’s attorney Richard Rasak had no comment on his client’s case.
Even with new plans on the board for an improved car wash, the case regarding Diamond’s charges in April and May will still move forward.
“The crimes are from April and May, so obviously just because he fixed it now, let’s say he demolishes it, we can still proceed with the case,” said Chivra. “Our goal is to make the property safe. Once that’s done we’ll see what will happen. The new lease doesn’t affect our case at all.”
According to McKenna, they plan to invest $1.3 million in the property and have signed a 35-year lease. The group plans to begin demolition on August 15.
“The city has been really great working with us, we really appreciate everything they’re doing,” said McKenna. “We look forward to a continued relationship with Redondo Beach and think we can get an awesome organization down there. Anything going on with the landlord does not affect us- we’re trying to do everything we can to get that thing torn down.” ER