The old, blighted Redondo Car Wash on Torrance Boulevard will soon give way to a new, hydrogen fuel-cell car wash, much to the delight of residents.
Redondo Beach city officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Redondo Auto Spa late Thursday afternoon.
"I hate to call a demo a milestone, but it's a milestone, no doubt about it," Councilman Bill Brand, whose Second District includes Torrance Boulevard, told attendees at the groundbreaking.
The former Redondo Car Wash, built in 1962, closed 10 years ago. Over the decade, weeds have sprouted all over the property, the building has rusted and fallen in places and transients have made the property a home.
"It's been an eyesore for over 10 years, so everyone's excited," said new car wash owner Ken Crow. "I think everybody's looking forward to seeing this demolished, hopefully by the end of next week."
The Redondo Auto Spa will be the first car wash in the U.S. powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, according to owner Chris McKenna.
The fuel cell will convert hydrogen to electricity using natural gas. "The byproduct is absolutely purified water," said McKenna, who noted that they were going to try to incorporate the purified water into the car wash.
McKenna has had his eye on the site for more than 17 years, he said. An agreement with the property owners was reached June 28 of this year.
"We plan to be complete and open by no later than March 1," he said.
Preliminary plans call for the new car wash to have Spanish-Mediterranean features and lots of open space, according to Redondo Beach Planning Director Aaron Jones. The new building's footprint will be significantly smaller than that of the original car wash.
Brand, who made a campaign promise to clean up the property when he ran for city council in 2009, said he was happy to see the promise come to fruition.
"It's just fantastic that we're finally going to clean up our blight," he said.