The city of Diamond Bar will move ahead with plans to get a market analysis done for the shuttered Honda dealership site.
The City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to approve a $55,000 agreement with AECOM to conduct studies on what types of businesses would be best suited for the property at Grand Avenue and the 57/60 freeway interchange. The analysis will take about four months to complete.
Staff originally requested $49,000 for the analysis, but City Manager Jim DeStefano asked that the amount be increased to $55,000, with the additional funds to be in place for any contingencies that arise.
Before the vote, resident Allen Wilson urged the council members not to approve the market analysis, adding that studies of this kind are what businesses do, not cities.
“I just hope you seriously consider that $49,000 is not an appropriate expenditure on that particular site,” Wilson said. “As we take a conservative approach in our local government, let the free market work. You’re in government to provide services.”
DeStefano said the Honda dealership has been dark since around 2006. With the Burger King closing Jan. 31, the property is totally vacant.
“Diamond Bar should be looking at the long term use of that property,” he said. “The city needs to aid in the development of that site.”
In April 2012, the council adopted an interim ordinance that placed a 45-day moratorium on issuing land use permits for the northwest corner of Grand Avenue at the State Route 60 onramp.
A month later, the council extended the ordinance for a year. The ban expires next month.
The Honda dealership moved to the City of Industry, as Caltrans started its plans to construct a direct westbound onramp to the freeway, according to city officials. Plans for the property are further complicated by a proposed NFL stadium project that could be built next door in Industry.
Caltrans’ plan to revamp the on-ramp would take just under an acre of land from the current property. However, the city has an agreement with Industry to grant right-of-way to a stadium, if it is built, that would offset the loss.
DeStefano said the city issued the moratorium due to private party discussions regarding land uses for the site that officials felt would have “grossly underutilized the property.”
Grand Avenue gets around 40,000 trips per day in traffic, he said. The 60/57 interchange sees about 350,000 trips per day.
The 4.5-acre Honda site could be ideal for a hotel, restaurants, and other retail that caters to the business traveler or commuter, he said.
The analysis will look at potential uses for the property with a proposed NFL stadium next door and without one. City of Industry officials have said that if the stadium does not go forward, they may develop the land next to the Honda site into a business center.
Mayor Pro Tem Ron Everett said he supported the study. He also asked for a breakdown of the costs.
DeStefano said $3,500 would be used for a site capacity study and $19,000 for the market analysis. The massing study, which looks at whether the land is the right size for certain uses, totals $6,500. A financial analysis to assess potential revenues and developer costs will be $7,000 and a municipal study that looks at highest and best use strategies $10,000. Also included is an option for an additional cost analysis totaling $3,000.
The remaining 12 percent will be set aside in a contingency fund in case additional expenses arise, he said.
Councilman Steve Tye said it is important that the city take a proactive approach in luring quality businesses.
“The most important thing we have to focus on is that best and highest use,” Tye said. “Because if that property becomes a storage facility or if that property becomes an indoor swap meet, then the citizens of Diamond Bar are going to be looking at us going ‘how in the world did that happen? Who was watching when this happened?’”