Kelley Kim

AES unveils plan to demolish century old Redondo Beach power plant

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The AES development proposal for an esplanade, looking south on Harbor Drive. Courtesy AES Southland.

The AES development proposal for an esplanade, looking south on Harbor Drive. Courtesy AES Southland.

The power plant that has dominated the Redondo Beach waterfront for a century may be replaced by a mixed-use commercial, retail, and residential development as soon as 2020.

The development plan was disclosed today by AES Southland, which owns and operates the power plant.

Redondo Beach mayor Steve Aspel said the plant could stop producing power as soon as 2018.

“This is a once in a lifetime chance to get rid of [the power plant],” Aspel said. “I think realistic, responsible people will be happy with it.”

AES plans to put an initiative on the March 2015 ballot, asking voters to approve residential and commercial zoning for the power plant site, according to AES Southland vice president of business development Eric Pendergraft.

The mixed-use “Harbor Village” along Harbor Drive would have 85,000 square feet of commercial space and 250 hotel rooms with a height limit of four stories or 45 feet. The east side of the property, along N. Francisca and N. Gertruda, would have 600 units with a combination of two story, 30-foot, and three story, 35-foot residences.

The plan includes a 10-acre public plaza and tree-lined promenade and four acres for a neighborhood park or other recreational use.

“I fully support it as long as the initiative doesn’t go above these numbers,” Aspel said. “Right now, at face value, it seems like the initiative is the only surefire way to get rid of the power plant.”

The AES power plant from Herondo Street and Pacific Coast Highway. Courtesy AES Southland.

The AES power plant from Herondo Street and Pacific Coast Highway. Courtesy AES Southland.

Harbor Village from Herondo Street and Pacific Coast Highway after full build-out of the site.

Harbor Village from Herondo Street and Pacific Coast Highway after full build-out of the site. Courtesy AES Southland.

Aspel said the initiative offers residents a clear choice.

“What’ll happen is it will go before the voters and they’ll have a choice of voting to approve the AES proposal or they’ll have a choice of voting to keep the power plant,” Aspel said. “A hundred percent up to the voters.”

“Harbor Village” is the first plan AES has backed for the redevelopment of the site since the controversial and ultimately failed Heart of the City in 2000. Aspel, who was on the planning commission that approved the Heart of the City project, said this is a significantly different proposal.

“It’s a far, far cry from the old Heart of the City,” he said. “That was up to 3,000 units. This is 600.”

Pendergraft said he is confident voters will support the proposal.

“The development envelope that we’re seeking approval for is a fraction of what was pursued under the Heart of the City, and that was intentional,” Pendergraft said. “We’ve designed this in such a way that we’re confident it will get the support of the voters, yet still have enough economic opportunity for it to be fair and reasonable. You never know how somebody’s going to vote, but we find it hard to imagine why people would not approve of this plan. It’s got support of the property owner, which is different than Measure A, and it’s a pretty neat plan.”

Measure A was an initiative promoted by local activists in 2013 to rezone the power plant site to disallow future power generation. AES argued the measure infringed on its property rights. Voters narrowly rejected the measure.

Potential walk street through 600-unit residential area of Harbor Village. Courtesy AES Southland.

Potential walk street through 600-unit residential area of Harbor Village. Courtesy AES Southland.

Pendergraft said it’s yet to be determined whether AES will retain title to the property or sell it to a developer. But he confirmed that AES has been working with the City of Redondo Beach and developer CenterCal, who is currently undergoing an environmental impact review for their proposed development of the King Harbor waterfront.

“In preparing the initiative and the proposed zoning we’ve gotten input from the city as well as CenterCal so that we could design our project in such a way that they all complement and support each other,” he said. “And that certainly is our goal.”

Pendergraft said the proposed initiative “complements what the city is trying to do with the gateway project and the cycle track” and will enhance the Herondo Street/Harbor Drive Gateway Improvement project by providing additional walkways and bicycle paths.

“It was inspired by our desire to find a win-win solution, where everybody feels and is victorious,” Pendergraft said. “The city gets what they want: additional revenue and a brand new, revitalized waterfront without a power plant. The community gets a great place to visit, enhanced views and higher property values. We get a fair value in return, and those folks who have concerns about a new power plant, those concerns are alleviated because there won’t be one.”

“The most important thing to me is getting rid of the power plant,” Aspel said. “This is something we’ve been working on forever and it’s a real chance to get rid of it.”

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