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Inglewood will use eminent domain to acquire land needed for Clippers’ arena

Inglewood plans to use eminent domain to secure 11 properties needed for the proposed Los Angeles Clippers basketball arena project, according to a staff report.

The properties along Century Boulevard near Prairie Avenue, just across the street from SoFi Stadium that is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, include two warehouses and a Church’s Chicken. The rest are vacant or only used for billboards, the report states. Once acquired, Inglewood will transfer the land to the arena’s private developers with a covenant requiring the land be preserved for public use indefinitely.

Inglewood’s City Council will hear public testimony from property owners at its meeting 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, and then vote on whether to begin eminent domain proceedings. Inglewood had each property appraised and sent offers to the owners in late 2020, according to the report. A spokesperson for the city was unable to provide the total cost of Inglewood’s offers Monday evening.

If the owner and the city can’t agree on a price, a jury will determine the fair market value.

While the project is privately funded, Inglewood’s attorneys say the arena meets the standard of public use by providing residents with “access to amusement, enjoyment and recreation,” according to the report. Inglewood cites several cases in which cities have used eminent domain to condemn land needed for private stadiums and other sports venues.

Construction of the arena will promote the city as a “premier regional sports and entertainment center,” bring an NBA team back to the city, stimulate the local economy, provide publicly accessible space, and spur $100 million in community benefits, the report states. Inglewood argues the arena is the best use for the land, which is otherwise limited by the Federal Aviation Administration because of overhead flight paths to Los Angeles International Airport.

The Clippers hope to begin construction on the $1.8 billion arena by this summer and open in time for the 2024-25 NBA season, despite initial delays caused by a legal tiff with the former owners of The Forum that ended when Clippers owner Steve Ballmer bought the iconic concert venue for $400 million. In September, Murphy’s Bowl, the developer backed by Ballmer, agreed to pay $66.25 million for the 22 acres of land needed for the project. Proceeds of the sale will be split between the city, the FAA, Los Angeles World Airports, and other local entities, including the Inglewood Unified School District.

The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center (IBEC) will feature up to 18,500 seats, an 85,000-square-foot training facility, 71,000 square feet of team office space, a 25,000-square-foot medical clinic, an outdoor plaza with a stage and basketball court, and up to 63,000 square feet of space for retail, food and beverages, security, restrooms and other ancillary services. Two parking garages and a 150-room hotel also will be built on the site, which will host concerts and other events in addition to basketball.

All but one of the properties to be acquired through eminent domain are located within the arena’s footprint. One property, the Church’s Chicken, is adjacent to the arena, but is “needed for restaurant, food service, retail and other public serving uses that are necessary to protect and preserve the attractiveness and usefulness of the IBEC project.”

Source: Orange County Register

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