$468 million development approved for South Rancho campus

The long-abandoned South Rancho campus may soon be redeveloped after the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved initial funding Tuesday. Photo by Joan Anderson, DowneyDailyPhotos.com

The long-abandoned South Rancho campus may soon be redeveloped after the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved initial funding Tuesday. Photo by Joan Anderson, DowneyDailyPhotos.com

DOWNEY – A significant portion of the long-abandoned south Rancho Los Amigos campus may finally be redeveloped after L.A. County Supervisors unanimously approved a $468 million project Tuesday. 

The 70-acre development project calls for a 15-acre regional sports complex on the property, which has sat abandoned since Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center consolidated its campus 30 years ago.

The sports complex includes multiple playing fields, nighttime lighting, restrooms, a concession stand, an equipment storage room and parking.

The rest of the site will be used to house a Sheriff’s Department crime lab, headquarters for L.A. County Probation and Internal Services departments, and possibly a light rail commuter station. 

“This is a major accomplishment for Downey,” said Mayor Alex Saab. “Our city has worked hard over the past 10 years to encourage the redevelopment of this property, which complements our economic development efforts throughout the city and specifically in south Downey.” 

County supervisors voted Tuesday to spend $17 million in initial funding to develop architectural scoping documents and prepare an environmental impact report.

“Today we reached another milestone in the transformation of the Rancho Los Amigos campus,” said Supervisor Don Knabe. “I want to thank the City of Downey and the Downey City Council for their great partnership throughout this entire process. This project has been a longtime coming and I am thrilled that we are finally moving forward with redeveloping Rancho’s South Campus into a space that will better serve the County and enhance the quality-of-life of Downey residents and the entire region.” 

The entire Downey City Council -- minus Roger Brossmer -- along with City Manager Gilbert Livas attended Tuesday’s meeting, along with AYSO players and coaches. They testified in support of the project. 

“As we heard from local AYSO players who testified at today’s Board meeting, playing fields are a sorely needed amenity in the southeast communities,” added Knabe. “I know these facilities will be used by kids and adults of all ages for years to come.”

Feral cats roam the abandoned South Rancho campus. Photo by Pam Lane, DowneyDailyPhotos.com

Feral cats roam the abandoned South Rancho campus. Photo by Pam Lane, DowneyDailyPhotos.com

Downey officials celebrated the project’s approval. 

“[Tuesday] was a historic day for our city -- one that will be cemented in Downey’s legacy for many generations to come,” said Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Vasquez. “Thank you to all of those involved in making this project a reality for our community, from past Downey mayors and city staff to elected officials in our neighboring cities including South Gate, Bellflower and Paramount, thank you for your support for the regional sports park.” 

“I support this project because it is the right thing to do for the children of Downey and the Gateway Region,” added Councilman Sean Ashton. “The council will work closely with the County of Los Angeles to finalize the specifics in regards to the construction of this state-of-the-art, regional sports complex.”