Development of Long Beach Kroc Center ceases

An unsuccessful fundraising campaign and lack of site control has led The Salvation Army Western Territory Board of Directors to end any effort toward the development of the Long Beach, Calif., Kroc Center.

Chief Secretary Colonel William Harfoot said: “After negotiation with legal counsel from the County of Los Angeles and the City of Long Beach, we are unable to execute a lease agreement for use of the Hamilton Bowl and the seven acres of excess land. Without this agreement in place, the Long Beach Kroc Center cannot be built as it was approved in Phase II of the grant application. Thus the Long Beach Kroc Center project is cancelled.”

Since the original decision four years ago to develop a Kroc Center program in the Long Beach area, the Army, in good faith, has spent $4.6 million dollars to facilitate fundraising, site acquisition and development, and architectural planning on this site.

The Army had allocated $76 million of the Joan Kroc bequest for this center. Half that amount was allocated for construction and half for an endowment in support of operating costs. The Army required that a minimum of $15 million in local support was needed to make the project financially viable. To date, approximately $5 million has been pledged or donated in support of the project.

Site acquisition and development have turned out to be highly complicated. The site is a 19-acre flood plain that is referred to as the Hamilton Bowl site. It is part of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. During the past four years since its selection, the estimated cost of acquisition and development has nearly doubled to approximately 25 percent of the entire construction budget.

The method and timing of the return of cash gifts is still to be determined.

Harfoot made it clear that this decision does not foreclose the development of a Kroc Center either in Long Beach or elsewhere in the Los Angeles area. He stated, however, that completion of the Honolulu and Phoenix centers must precede deliberation regarding any future Kroc Center projects.

Kathy Lovin, a spokesperson for the Army, said: “The Kroc Center in Long Beach would have been a wonderful way to care for the people of this city. Dozens of people were involved in helping make it happen. We want to tell them thank you. And we want them to know how heartbroken we are that it didn’t come together the way we all hoped it would.”

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