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Lack Of Details Grounds Space Center Plan in Lompoc

With many questions still unanswered, the Lompoc City Council has decided to end exclusive negotiations with a Polish woman proposing to develop the California Space Center, effectively grounding the latest version of the project.

The council voted 3-2 on Tuesday to uphold the September notice of default advising Eva Blaisdell she had 45 days to provide missing information required under the exclusive negotiating agreement she and the city had signed months earlier.

Blaisdell submitted information at the 11th hour, but City Manager Patrick Wiemiller said the responses only cured eight of the 14 areas. 

“I don’t think the council had much choice but to make the finding they did,” Wiemiller said. 

The city had sought some of the lacking information since Lompoc issued a request for qualifications more than a year ago. Despite the missing information, the council previously had cautiously proceeded to work with Blaisdell.

Proposed for 82 acres of city land near Allan Hancock College’s Lompoc Valley Center, the for-profit, multimillion-dollar California Space Center would be a combination entertainment, education and research facility.

It would provide a launch viewing platform and a visitor center, and have an IMAX theater and a museum. Other proposed features include a hotel, restaurant, convention hall, business park, light theme-park attractions or what a one supporter called a “space Disneyland.”

“I am disappointed from the standpoint that I think a space center would be wonderful thing to have for Lompoc and for the Central Coast area,” Wiemiller said. “It would be a great amenity.”

Decked out in clothing bearing NASA's logo, Blaisdell has appeared frequently at Lompoc council meetings and other community events giving passionate speeches about her plans, while mentioning major firms such as Bechtel Engineering and Sony Media.

Lompoc officials have balked at relinquishing the land without proof the $460 million project could and would succeed, saying they have a fiduciary duty to protect the city-owned property.

Information sought included details on the development team and confirmation of investors.

A city consultant said Blaisdell, who has claimed to be a member of the Polish media and an entrepreneur previously involved in technology companies, had not provided proof of her experience as a real estate developer.

In the report, Keyser Marston Associates cited “serious concerns that an inexperienced developer can successfully implement a project of the proposed magnitude.

“At a minimum, the development team needs to include an experienced developer, architect, construction manager/general contractor and financial partner at the early stages of the process,” the report said.

This is the second time the city has had to halt development of the project, canceling an exclusive negotiation agreement with a nonprofit organization, Environmental Education Group, amid questions about the leader and doubts it could pull off the plan.

An earlier version of the space center, once planned for Vandenberg Air Force Base property off Highway 1, was canceled and later proposed for the Lompoc site. However, shortly afterward, the California Space Authority dissolved, leaving the project in limbo.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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