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Developer reveals ‘Grand Plaza' plans revealed

January 10, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The Los Angeles developers looking to build a huge mall near the downtown Port of Entry have come up with a conceptual name for the project — "Paseo Grand Plaza."

In coming weeks, city staffers and representatives of M&A Gabaee of Los Angeles will be hammering out the details of a development agreement that could determine whether the "plaza" ever gets built.

The agreement will define exactly how much money the city's Redevelopment Agency would loan the developers and how soon the developers would have to repay that money.

Once the sides have written up an agreement, the document will be brought before the city's Redevelopment Agency board for approval.

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Before the City Council, seated as the RDA board, votes on an agreement, the specific monetary numbers will be made public.

Over the summer, Armin Gabay told the RDA board that his limited liability corporation, M&A Gabaee, needs millions of dollars to buy 1 million square feet of land near the downtown Port of Entry and the New River.

Gabay and his brother Mark have purchased similarly blighted land in Los Angeles and Oakland for a variety of development projects.

Once Gabay has "site control" of the Calexico land, he would bring in retailers to bankroll the construction of factory outlet stores.

If he is not able to attract retailers to the site the "grand" project could be stillborn.

If he is successful, though, he said his corporation would pay back the Redevelopment Agency in 18 months after a multi-million dollar loan went through.

Sarah Magaña, one of Gabay's associates, said retailers will "definitely" drive the project.

If Gabay is successful attracting retailers, around seven big factory outlet stores would be on land right next to the downtown port, within easy walking distance of the border crossing.

If that phase of the project is successful, profits collected by M&A Gabaee could be invested in the second phase — the "Grand Plaza."

An artist rendering of the proposed "plaza" appears inspired by San Diego's Horton Plaza. The rendering shows the fountains and patio restaurants of Horton minus the gaudy orange and purple color scheme.

The third phase of the project is called the "Power Center." Again, this phase is dependent on the success of the first two phases.

The "center" would include electronics and home improvement centers and a market.

The fourth phase of the project, "The Free Trade Zone," would be set up for warehouses, connected showrooms and distribution centers.

Anticipating community concerns about vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic mingling on Second Street, Magaña called "access" and the "primitive infrastructure" of the proposed site "challenges" that would be met by the Long Beach engineering firm of Perkowitz & Ruth, among others.

Perkowitz & Ruth has designed mall projects in Pasadena, Long Beach and Buena Park.

The fifth phase of the project calls for construction of offices and light industrial buildings. Magaña said computer companies and small-manufacturing companies could set up operations there.

If the five phases of the project are successful, the various businesses would employ more than 2,000 people, according to estimates provided by Gabay.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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