LA Metro sues Prologis, tenants over contaminated site

Transit agency alleges clean-up of LA property could cost more than $10M

Prologis' Hamid Moghadam, 203 E. College Street and LA Metro's Ara Najarian
Prologis' Hamid Moghadam, 203 E. College Street and LA Metro's Ara Najarian (Prologis, Google Maps, City of Glendale)

Prologis, the real estate investment trust often cited as the largest owner of warehouses in the world, is a defendant in a suit bought by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority over a contaminated property near downtown Los Angeles.

LA County’s MTA, known as Metro, filed the lawsuit in federal court March 7 and alleges that former owners of the site, 203 East College Street, were negligent in using hazardous materials at the site. Past owners allowed hazardous substances to be released into the environment, and neglected to tell Metro about the contamination.

The public transit agency spent more than $40,000 investigating the contamination and it anticipates that it will take more than $10 million to clean up the site. The suit requests a jury trial to recover costs and help clean up the site.

The suit says that Prologis is one of the former owners of the industrial property. It contains a 5,200-square-foot building based on a half-acre lot, on the cross streets of East Alameda Avenue and College Street, in between Chinatown and the Los Angeles River.

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Metro has owned 203 East College since 2011. It acquired the property by a grant deed from Prologis as part of a multi-parcel transaction. Other past owners include Santa Fe Pacific Realty and California Drop Forge, which manufactured specialty metal parts for the aerospace and medical industries.
Drop Forge operated at the site under different master leases from 2003 to 2021. In January 2021, the lease was terminated and the manufacturer left the site. Drop Forge also operated a plant at an adjacent property where contamination had originated, and hazardous substances had been released onto 203 E. College St.

The complaint alleges that manufacturing at the site released hazardous chemicals such as petroleum hydrocarbons which contaminated the soil and the groundwater underneath the soil.

The complaint contends that the site was contaminated before Metro owned it. While the government agency conducted due diligence to investigate issues with the site, none of the previous owners revealed that it was contaminated. The complaint says that a 2017 lease for the site contained language that one of the suit’s defendants was responsible for cleaning up the site if there was environmental contamination and reimbursing Metro for costs incurred in a clean-up. The suit alleges that the defendants refused to clean up the site.

A Prologis representative said that the company had not been served with the complaint. Attorneys for Metro did not respond to requests for comment..

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