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Plan for 2024 Olympic Village in L.A. on Shaky Ground

Los Angeles' proposed Olympic village might need a new address.

Mon November 30, 2015 - National Edition

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles’ proposed Olympic village might need a new address.

Less than three months after the city was selected as the U.S. candidate for the 2024 Olympic Games, plans to build a sprawling community for 17,000 athletes near downtown appeared to be in doubt and a search is underway for possible alternatives.

The committee steering the city’s bid had proposed a $1 billion development on a rail yard where thousands of athletes would eat, sleep and stroll on tree-lined walks and clipped lawns. Virtually all the money to finance it would come from as-yet-unsecured private investment.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell told a City Council committee Wednesday that it could cost up to $2 billion to buy the rail site, conduct an environmental cleanup and relocate the yard _ even before any construction would begin. According to his estimate, that could triple the projected cost.

The yard is owned by Union Pacific Railroad, which has said it no plans to close or relocate the facility but would be open to a sale or exchange, providing it gets a suitable replacement with all the required permits and approvals.

”I do not see a pathway for using the ... yard’ for the 2024 Games, O’Farrell said after the meeting.

Council members have been wary of the potential for creeping costs for an event that historically runs over budget. A so-called host city contract, which essentially sticks the city and state with the burden of any cost overruns, became an obstacle in Boston, which was initially selected but later dropped as the 2024 candidate.

Jeff Millman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Olympic committee, said in an email that the rail yard remains the top choice but the group is looking at about two dozen alternatives.

The committee wants ”to find the right location for the athletes, for our city and for our budget,’ Millman said. ”This city is certainly not lacking for developers and we’ll be working with them in the months ahead.’

The city’s 2024 plan, which outlines over $6 billion in public and private spending, calls for staging events from volleyball on Santa Monica Beach to mountain biking in Griffith Park, one of the nation’s largest urban green spaces.

Earlier this year, city analysts warned that costs to acquire the rail yard and build the structures might significantly exceed the projected cost. Other looming questions include whether the developer would be given tax incentives to build the village, and what that might cost local government.

Los Angeles is up against Rome, Paris, Budapest, Hungary, and Hamburg, Germany, to host the 2024 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee will make the selection in 2017.

Los Angeles was home to the Olympics in 1932 and 1984.

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