For the last 14 years, Whittier city officials, environmental activists and even former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have fought over what should be done with the 73-acre Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility ever since the state closed it in 2004.But on Wednesday, those fights were put to rest, and instead residents, city officials and representatives of the development company celebrated the soon-to-start construction with a ground-breaking ceremony.“Today, we’re rebreaking the ground, blending the old with the new, and the past with the future,” David Bartlett, vice president of land entitlements for Costa Mesa-based Brookfield Residential, said at the ceremony attended by about 150 people.
Escrow on the state’s $42.5 million sale of the site on Whittier Boulevard at the end of Philadelphia Street to Brookfield is expected to close April 20 or soon after, Bartlett said.
Demolition of the 68 buildings is expected to take about 18 month, and a grand opening is planned for spring 2020, Bartlett said.
Brookfield’s plans — dubbed the Lincoln Specific Plan — calls for a mixed-use development of 561 for-sale homes, 189 apartments (60 targeted for ages 55-plus) and 150,000 square feet of retail/commercial space.
Four historic buildings will be preserved. The project will be known as The Groves in Whittier, and Brookfield will partner with Lennar Corp., a Miami-based housing developer.
This second groundbreaking was held 128 years, or exactly 6,687 weeks, after the first for what was then called Whittier State School. The cornerstone was placed in the yard of the administration building, not too far from where Wednesday’s groundbreaking was held, Bartlett said.
“This was the second state school in California,” Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri said. “It was brought in by the founders of the new Quaker colony. The school brought in jobs, all the way until 2002. In 2004, this bad boy school was shut down and became a blighted eyesore.”
State officials initially planned on selling the former prison, and the state Public Works Board in June 2006 approved a sale. Before it could close, however, Schwarzenegger stopped it because he needed prison sites to handle the influx expected from federal court orders calling for an end to overcrowded prisons.
see original article here: https://www.whittierdailynews.com/2018/04/04/whittier-its-really-happening-development-of-the-nelles-site-begins-with-a-groundbreaking/