DOWNEY — Once known for its space program, the city is taking steps to become a medical center.
The latest in that effort was City Council action March 14 to rezone from commercial use to allow a two-story, 11,797-square-foot medical office building at 9041 Imperial Highway east of Lakewood Boulevard. Final action on the zone ordinance is expected at the next council meeting March 28.
The clinic, on a 36,805-square-foot lot, will serve as a dialysis treatment center, Principal Planner David Blumenthal said.
With the demise of the space program in the 1990s on some 160 acres northeast of Imperial Highway and Lakewood Boulevard, Downey is becoming a medical center, with three major hospitals and a number of clinics, Mayor Fernando Vasquez said.
In other action March 14, the council approved hiring the consultant firm of Independent Development Services of Torrance, for up to $10,000 to help streamline and expand the current 501 nonprofit foundation for the Columbia Memorial Space Center.
Benjamin Dickow, executive director of the space center, said the firm has helped in establishing the foundation to raise funds for the nonprofit museum. It’s next step will be to expand the foundation, train new members and create a strategic plan for growth and continued operation.
Dickow has said the center, which features artifacts, films and replicas of the space program, also seeks to be an education center to teach young people about science.
In that respect, the center will host a City of STEM Festival April 17-22. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The community event seeks to reintroduce the center to the area, pointing out Downey’s role in the space program on an adjoining site, now occupied by the Downey Promenade.
The council agreed to waive the $5 entrance fee during the program.