Plan for 2024 Olympic village in Los Angeles on shaky ground

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L.A. Touts Itself in 2024 Bid


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.

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Plan for 2024 Olympic village in Los Angeles on shaky ground
A worker manouevers is vehicle past an entrance to the Los Angeles Coliseum, which played host to the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics, in Los Angeles, California on August 31, 2015. The Los Angeles city Council members vote September 1,on the city's bid for the 2024 Olympics in a move seen as an important step toward securing nomination as a candidate by the US Olympic Committee. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US Olympic Swimmer Janet Evans addresses the audience on a stage at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica, California on September 1, 2015, after the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to go forward with a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, prompting the U.S. Olympic Committee to formally name Los Angeles as its official bidder for the athletic spectacle. Among those who also addressed the audience beside Evans were sportcaster Al Michaels and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at a press conference as he is joined by (L-R) USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman, Olympian Janet Evens, LA City Cuncil President Herb Wesson and announcer AL Michaels to officially launch a Los Angeles 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games bid at Annenberg Beach House on September 1, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
FILE - This Feb. 13, 2008, file photo shows the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The University of Southern California announced preliminary plans Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, for extensive renovations for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that could make it a stage for the 2024 Olympic Games and a temporary site for an NFL team next year. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch OâFarrell is seen in Council Chambers at Los Angeles City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. Less than two months after Los Angeles was selected as the U.S. candidate for the 2024 Olympic Games, city officials disclosed Wednesday that a private committee is searching for alternatives to its initial proposal to construct a village for 17,000 athletes at a rail yard the city doesn't own. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino, left, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson celebrate after a city council vote, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council cleared the way Tuesday for Garcetti to strike agreements for a 2024 Olympics bid, putting the city on the verge of becoming the U.S. contender after Boston's awkward collapse. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
The Union Pacific Intermodal rail yard is viewed with the Los Angeles skyline on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The vast extension of land could be repurposed as the centerpiece of the proposed $1 billion residential village for the 2024 Olympic Games bid. But with a deadline to submit a U.S. candidate for the 2024 Games just 18 days away, the plan remains a mystery in many ways. The sprawling Olympic Village, to be built with mostly private funds, is tethered to a series of financial assumptions and question marks. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
The Union Pacific Intermodal rail yard is viewed with the Los Angeles skyline on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The vast extension of land could be repurposed as the centerpiece of the proposed $1 billion residential village for the 2024 Olympic Games bid. But with a deadline to submit a U.S. candidate for the 2024 Games just 18 days away, the plan remains a mystery in many ways. The sprawling Olympic Village, to be built with mostly private funds, is tethered to a series of financial assumptions and question marks. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
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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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