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Tuesday, Nov 28, 2023


By DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter The area surrounding Hansen Dam in the Northeast San Fernando Valley is a hodgepodge of spent gravel pits, industrial warehouses and an outdated steam plant. But that could soon change. The community of Pacoima a Native American word that means “rushing waters” could be home in the near future to such attractions as a riverside walking trail, a sports facility or even an amenity that would fit its name, a water-themed amusement park. The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency recently put out a request for proposals for developing the 600-acre Hansen Dam area in Pacoima and has received five proposals that are being considered by an advisory committee. The land is owned by the Department of Water and Power, CalMat Co., the city of L.A. and other property owners. The group ultimately selected to develop the area will get a $180,000 city contract to create a vision statement and design plan for the parcel, which is bordered roughly by Foothill Boulevard on the north, Van Nuys Boulevard on the west, Laurel Canyon on the south and Sheldon Street on the east. It must also prepare a financial analysis that tests the feasibility of the project and includes guidelines for such things as building heights, streets and walkways, open areas, lighting, security, rehabilitation of existing buildings and marketing. “It really is a vision statement, and hopefully we’ll be able to make that statement and find companies that will be interested in a major proposal to construct,” said City Councilman Richard Alarcon, whose district includes Hansen Dam and who asked the CRA to put out a request for proposals. An advisory committe formed by Alarcon will choose the best of the five proposals, which then must go to the CRA board for approval. The proposal ultimately must be approved by the City Council something that CRA officials hope will happen by the end of September. Lillian Burkenheim-Silver, the CRA project manager for the Hansen Dam plan, said her agency is following Alarcon’s lead on the project. “We don’t have a preconceived vision here,” Burkenheim-Silver said. “Every council person knows their district in some ways better than anybody else. And Councilman Alarcon has really exciting ideas for his district and this area, and that will lead a lot of the discussion.” Bastion Capital Corp. Chairman Danny Villanueva, who has teamed with historical building restorer Wayne Ratkovich to create one of the five proposals under consideration for the parcel, said the Hansen Dam area is underserved in terms of social activities for local residents. “This, I think, would go a long way to answering that weakness that little gap that exists in cultural and recreational activities there,” Villanueva said. Villanueva’s proposal was the only one made public because Villanueva is a member of the proposal selection committee and has to abstain from decision-making in the matter. The other groups that submitted proposals were not made public, per CRA policy. One of the ideas that Villanueva and Alarcon share is a water park to be called “Rushing Waters.” It would be a family-themed amusement park with water slides and other wet attractions. Alarcon said that creating a plan for the Hansen Dam area’s economic development is the best way to motivate the private sector to build there. “I call my district a victim of piecemeal planning,” Alarcon said. “If you create a scheme, then it makes it easier to sell to major investors.”

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