Planning Commission considers subdividing Albert Ball estate into four lots (UPDATED)

UPDATE: On a 4-1 vote, the Planning Commission approved the subdivision, on the condition that two existing palm trees towards the front of the property remain. Commissioner Jim Rodriguez cast the dissenting vote. DOWNEY − The Downey Planning Commission on Wednesday will consider granting the new owner of the Albert Ball property permission to subdivide the land into four lots and a private street.

City staff have already green lit the proposal by owner Gloria Campuzano after a historic research evaluation by the city found that the estate, located at 8572 Cherokee Dr., has no historic significance.

"While the property served as the home of one of Downey's pioneers, Albert L. Ball, who was associated with the development of the citrus industry in the region...no specific historical events are known to be associated with the property," according to a city staff report.

Only 12 columns and the foundation remain of the original Ball home, which was mostly demolished by former owners Salvador and Maria Cerros in December 2007. The couple planned to rebuild the home using its original designs, but the project fell through as a result of the 2008 economic downturn.

If approved by the commission on Wednesday, the remaining portions of the home will be demolished in order to accommodate four separate lots -- each over 11,700 sq. ft. -- on the west side of the acreage and a private driveway along the east side.

Campuzano, who also owns Gloria's Cocina Mexicana in Downey, said she often dreamt of living on the property. "Whenever I passed by, I'd see this amazing land and say, 'one of these days, I'll buy it,'" she said. "Finally, last year it was for sale."

Campuzano, who purchased the land for nearly $1.6 million, plans for her children and other relatives to live in all four lots and does not have any intentions to sell them.

City staff do not believe the subdivision will create a significant adverse impact to the neighborhood and are recommending commissioners approve the resolution.

Designed in Spanish Colonial style by famous Los Angeles architect H.H. Whitely in 1920, the original Ball mansion was once one of the most prominent homes in Downey, situated in the midst of the family’s vast orange groves.

The 7,483-sq.-ft. two-story, rectangular structure sported a red tile roof and arched windows and a sheltered porch extended from the home’s main entrance. In 1977, the Ball property was placed on the California Historic Resources Inventory as a historic resource.

"I really want to live there and I worked hard to purchase that land," said Gloria Campuzano, who estimates construction could start in a couple of months.