After Tesla, Downey looks to future

DOWNEY - Since Tesla Motors announced its intentions to establish an assembly plant in Fremont instead of Downey, city officials, though disappointed, still remain optimistic about future developments at the Downey Studios site."We will continue and are still actively pursuing development on that site," said Assistant City Manager Gilbert Livas. "As a result of the story going national, the city has received several leads from companies who want to start development - there are other people out there." According to Livas, other car companies that produce electric vehicles have approached the city, interested in establishing assembly plants at the former NASA site. "Downey is open for business," Livas said. "We're going to chase down everything - it will work out. We're disappointed, but very optimistic about the future." Livas said the city held its integrity during its negotiations with Tesla and has no regrets about courting the automaker. Despite the stunning announcement last week, Livas believes the dealings with Tesla helped elevate the city's stature. "I've heard comments like "the city may have been na?Øve - swimming with the sharks, playing with the big boys," said Livas. "But Tesla was very, very close to coming here - if it wasn't for $50 million." Tesla Motors announced last Thursday that it would utilize the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. assembly plant in Fremont after Toyota offered the company nearly $50 million to produce its Model S electric vehicles at the recently closed plant. However, the city, which owns nearly 20 acres of the former NASA property, was not the only affected party in the sudden withdrawal. "We were very disappointed after working on this for a full year," said Tom Messmer, Industrial Realty Group's vice president of project management. "We are signing projects as fast as we can - the process had slowed with Tesla's coming." IRG, which owns Downey Studios, was set to receive several incentives from the city in order to facilitate a lease agreement with Tesla, but will now reassess after Tesla's decision. "We are still a fully operational movie studio," said Messmer. "And we're excited to continue signing projects from movies to TV shows to commercials and music videos." Livas acknowledged Downey Studios effort in the Tesla dealings and maintains that the realty group will provide a facilitating role in that future as the city looks into alternative developments on the site.

********** Published: May 28, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 6