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Redevelopment Agency agrees to negotiate land deal with mall developer

April 10, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — This city's Redevelopment Agency board voted unanimously Tuesday to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Los Angeles-based developer Arman Gabay.

By entering into the agreement, the city is not obligated to sell 32 acres of city-owned land south of the airport to Gabay but in the next six months his limited liability corporation, M&A Gabaee, will be the only company that will be allowed to buy it.

Gabay has his eyes on those 32 acres south of the airport and privately held parcels near the New River and the downtown Port of Entry because he wants to build a regional mall on that expanse that would attract tourists from Mexicali and all over the Imperial Valley. The mall could be called Paseo Grand Plaza.


To reinforce his need for an exclusive negotiating agreement, Gabay told the City Council, seated as the RDA board, "We're very committed to this project. We'd like to go ahead and purchase the property. (Some landowners of various parcels near the downtown port) are getting antsy. With some, we've been in escrow now for nine months. They're at the point with us — cut or chase."

Mayor Pro Tem John Renison wanted to know if the city would be fiscally committed to selling the land if it signed off on the agreement.

The lawyer who wrote up the agreement for the city, David McEwen of Newport Beach, said the city would be committed to negotiate but would not be committed to selling.

By entering into an exclusive negotiating agreement, the developer has the chance to shop his project to potential tenants at the upcoming International Conference of Shopping Centers conference, he said. If Gabay lines up enough tenants for the proposed mall and the project looks promising, he would then ask the city for a loan.

If the city agreed to loan his company more than $3 million, Gabay would agree to build the mall.

The first phase would be near the downtown port. If that phase were successful, Gabay would bring in more retailers.

Renison asked for clarification.

"The city won't be fiscally committed until we sign the DDA (disposition and development agreement)?" he asked.

Renison was told that was the case.

The DDA won't be discussed until Gabay gets enough tenants who want to build in Calexico, he pays for an environmental study of the land near the New River where he wants to build and nothing unforeseen happens to scuttle the whole project.

City Manager Richard Inman explained this morning how the agreement binds Gabay into performing environmental studies before the project moves forward.

Reading from the agreement, Inman said, "Developer agrees to cooperate with city and agency to commence an environmental analysis of the project within 10 days following the date of this agreement."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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