gmplant/22″/mike1st/mark2nd By WADE DANIELS Contributing Reporter Six anchor tenants and a fast-food restaurant operator are in final negotiations to lease space in the $100 million retail/industrial project proposed for the former site of the General Motors assembly plant in Van Nuys. The project, now dubbed “The Plant,” is expected to include Office Max, Home Depot and Babies ‘R’ Us, a subsidiary chain of Toys ‘R’ Us, according to knowledgeable sources. The sources say a McDonald’s restaurant and an Arco gas station/mini-mart are also likely to locate in the center. Public hearings on the project are scheduled to begin this month. Because the center is seen as an economic boon for the area, city officials are expecting little opposition. “There are a number of very good tenants vying for the spaces, and we expect these to be decent-paying jobs,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who has worked to get the GM site redeveloped ever since the 2,500-employee plant shut down in 1992. “The GM facility was a symbol of the economic health of the area, and the fact that the site is under development is a symbol that the Valley has recovered.” Dan Selleck of Selleck Properties declined comment on the progress of negotiations, citing the pending city approval process. But one of the sources said the developers have largely filled the center, “all except for the leases being signed.” “The square footage for the various spaces is even worked out for most of them,” the source said. Spokesmen for Office Max and Home Depot, two expected anchor tenants, said final lease agreements had not been signed and declined comment. The 100-acre GM site has been designed to accommodate 356,000 square feet of new retail space on the 36-acre western portion of the property (on the 8000 block of Van Nuys Boulevard). That retail space is tentatively slated to be occupied by five restaurants, two food courts, six major anchor tenants and a gasoline station. As the round of hearings begins, community members say they will voice concerns over the application for an “off-site” alcoholic beverage license for a proposed gas station mini-mart. An off-site license allows the store to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises. As planned, the station would be built on Van Nuys Boulevard adjacent to Blythe Street, where police have long battled illegal drug sales and other criminal activity. “We don’t oppose liquor licenses as a rule, but we have a problem with this off-site license as it’s right across from Blythe Street, which is notorious for its law enforcement problems,” said Don Schultz, a member of Alarcon’s task force on the project and president of the Van Nuys Homeowners Association. Schultz said there is also concern over the possibility that a Home Depot would become a magnet for day laborers. However, he said, the homeowners’ association will not lodge any challenges to the Home Depot because the expected inclusion of a police station or sub-station at the development “will discourage this from being a problem.” Five acres of the project site have been set aside for a police station, which must still be approved by the City Council. An Office of Zoning Administration staff report recommends that the developer’s request to move forward with the project and to obtain on- and off-site alcoholic beverage licenses be approved. The developer is S & V; Van Nuys Associates, a company formed by The Voit Cos. of Woodland Hills and Westlake Village-based Selleck Properties. The developer previously announced that Mann Theatres will build a 16-screen cinema complex with 3,700 seats. “The fact that Selleck and Voit want to come and develop the 60 vacant acres means a lot for the community; it shows there is massive potential for the area,” said Nancy Hoffman, executive vice president of the Van Nuys Chamber of Commerce. “The area seems to be in a comeback.” Alarcon said he is most excited about the prospect of the 2,000 new jobs the development is expected to bring. “The GM facility was a symbol of the economic health of the area, and the fact that the site is under development is a symbol that the Valley has recovered,” Alarcon said. In recognition of the site’s history, The Plant’s shopping and restaurant facilities are designed around a car-and-parts-factory motif. The eastern portion of the site has been designed to accommodate 600,000 square feet of new industrial space on 30 acres.