Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wal-Mart Supercenter Gets Final Approval at 60th West at L in Lancaster Ca.

A five member City Council approved the Wal-Mart Supercenter this week. Mayor Rex Parris helped push it forward, so the center wouldn’t move to Palmdale instead. Several years ago there was discussion of using Palmdale as an alternative site, but eventually it was decided that the 60th Street West and Avenue L site would be the best location. There has been much debate and opposition and challenges to the environmental report. A second report was completed and that was eventually approved. It takes quite and effort and funds to get real development in an undeveloped location like Antelope Valley, so Wal-Mart was looking to the future for this site. 60th West at L is mostly open space as you look west. The city limits of Lancaster generally ends at 70th street West, so Wal-Mart must see a growing future in this area. They must see a larger population moving to this area in the coming decades. The population of Lancaster is approximately 150,000, and large box stores look for 250,000 people to accommodate such a supercenter. Wal-Mart has five stores in the valley currently, and this adds another. It looks like they project the Antelope Valley to have 1 million residents in the coming future. Looks to this big box store growth as a sign of growth and development in the Valley’s future. These large chains stores put a lot of effort and thought before they endeavor to build and grow their establishments, so this is a good sign for land prices in the area.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Land Acquisition and Construction Process is Very Slow for the $68 Billion Cal High Speed Rail

The LA Times recently reported that the land acquisition has not even started, yet construction is set to begin in July of this year. If the State doesn’t own any land how can they begin at all? The eminent domain process is very long a convoluted. Most of the land needed for the rail line will be agricultural land, but even then it will be similar to highway right of way acquisition. Hence a farmer would have to give up a portion of their land for the trains right of way, and cutting their own land in half. It is very likely most if not all of the High Speed Rail’s land acquisition will have to go via eminent domain which means court ordered sale of real estate. The state hopes to make purchase offers in the next several weeks, but expect farmers, homeowners, and businesses to ask top dollar for their land. In addition, agricultural land prices have risen the last year. The LA Times notes that Central Valley agricultural land can sell for $28k/acre, but the state land purchase budget is only $8k/acre. Yikes!! Once California hires their land buyers then offers will go out and the property owner has about a month to reply. They need to buy about 400 parcels. The state has rules regarding their eminent domain process which will extend the process by at least 90 days more. The eminent domain process could take another 18 months via the court system. Much of this agricultural land is family owned for generations. I don’t see many farmers giving up the land so easily. According to the LA times article , the initial 130 miles of rail in the Central Valley must be completed by 2018. The budget for this phase is $6 billion which requires spending about $3.6 million every day. This is voter approved as well. Californians sure loves to spend, if the state has the money or not. The major problem will be further delays increase the overall costs. Contractors are lined up, but they might even get paid without working based on their contracts.