MORENO VALLEY: Warehouse developer wants $100 million worth of help, city says
MORENO VALLEY: Warehouse developer wants 0 million worth of help, city says
Infrastructure that would be needed for the World Logistics Center project include:
• Sewer lines
• Traffic lights
• A new fire station
The developer of the massive World Logistics Center is negotiating with Moreno Valley officials over how much the city could contribute to pay for streets and other improvements needed to support the project.
But the parties disagree over the price tag and nature of the request.
City officials say Highland Fairview CEO Iddo Benzeevi has asked the city to shoulder more than $ 100 million worth of infrastructure projects. But in a Friday, May 22 statement, Benzeevi said “Highland Fairview has not requested the city to contribute any money for infrastructure for the World Logistics Center.”
Some current and past council members say the company may not have sought cash but did ask the city to ultimately bear some costs for streets, sidewalks, freeway interchanges and other projects.
A recent environmental study for the proposed 40.6 million-square-foot warehouse complex on the city’s east end refers to the proposed development agreement. It also includes two early drafts.
City officials are not saying if the final agreement will be made public before a planned June 11 Planning Commission hearing on the project.
Last week, Councilman Jeffrey Giba proposed that the project’s fate be decided by voters instead of the city council, but did not say whether the agreement would also be subject to voter approval.
Benzeevi, who has spent heavily to support city council candidates, touts the project as an economic boon for Moreno Valley, creating 20,000 jobs and pumping millions into the local economy. But the project has been controversial due to concerns about increased traffic and pollution.
The development also has come under scrutiny as part of an FBI and Riverside County District Attorney’s Office probe in which the Highland Fairview office and homes of four council members were raided in April 2013. No charges have been filed, but authorities say the investigation is ongoing.
YEARS OF TALKS
Negotiations for the pact began in 2012 and two drafts have so far been released. Pages intended to detail the needed improvements and who would pay for them are left blank.
In an interview last year, then-Mayor Tom Owings, Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis, former Community Development Director John Terrell and Chief Financial Officer Rick Teichert confirmed that Highland Fairview wanted the city to contribute $ 100 million in improvements.
Last week, DeSantis and City Manager Michelle Dawson declined to provide details of what is being negotiated and said the document would be available once a final accord is reached.
“That was a starting point,” DeSantis said. “It doesn’t reflect the current state of negotiations.”
City officials also say they aren’t sure if the agreement would be presented for a council vote at the same time as the project or later.