Redondo power plant closes, opening it up for redevelopment

Leo Pustilnikov has filed controversial plan for 2,700 homes using builder’s remedy

Redondo Power Plant Closes; Next Comes Redevelopment
Leo Pustilnikov; rendering of Pustilnikov’s One Redondo project (Getty, Kevin Scanlon)

A 116-year-old power station has shut down in Redondo Beach — opening the property up to the state’s first builder’s remedy redevelopment project.

AES closed its AES Redondo Beach power plant, making the 49-acre site available for a mixed-use development proposed by Leo Pustilnikov at 1100 North Harbor Drive, the Orange County Register reported.

The Beverly Hills developer is considered the first to employ the builder’s remedy, a 34-year-old legal provision in state housing law that allows builders to bypass local zoning rules if they fail to meet their state housing plan deadlines. Such projects must include a minimum percentage of affordable homes. 

Pustilnikov, owner of the power plant site, in July 2022 employed what was then an obscure legal loophole to file plans for a builder’s remedy project of offices, a hotel and more than 2,200 homes — setting off a firestorm in the affluent South Bay city over its redevelopment.

Next Century Power, a firm owned by Pustilnikov, aims to use the remedy to redevelop 51 acres, including a property owned by the company next door. 

Pustilnikov, a partner in SLH Investments of Los Angeles, bought the 75-year-old natural gas plant from AES in 2020 for around $150 million. Its closure on New Year’s Eve ended power generation at the site since 1907.

Plans for the 3.5 million-square-foot development known as One Redondo include 2,700 apartments, a 300-room hotel, 550,000 square feet of offices, plus shops and restaurants around a 22.5-acre park. Some 540 apartments would be affordable.

In May, Redondo Beach deemed the building application incomplete after an explosive back-and-forth between City Council members and the developer’s lawyer. 

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Pustilnikov had already filed a lawsuit to get the court to order the city to process the application. In August, YIMBY Law also sued Redondo Beach over its rejection of One Redondo.

“I’ve never lost in court,” Pustilnikov told The Real Deal in March.

“Ultimately, my position is anchored in law,” he added at a real estate forum hosted by The Real Deal in September. “The courts will be my salvation.” 

The lawsuit, Pustilnikov told the Register, will go to trial in March. He said he hopes to start construction this year. An AES lease precludes Pustilnikov from breaking ground for another six months.

A 100-foot mural of migrating gray whales painted by the Wyland Foundation on an outside wall of the power plant building will come down as soon as he regains control of the site, Pustilnikov said. The foundation hopes the mural, a fixture since 1991, can be saved.

— Dana Bartholomew

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