Sunday, November 19, 2006

Los Angeles Times Checks in on South Pasadena

A New Era in South Pasadena - Los Angeles Times
Change has found its way into a city long known for guarding its small-town, historic charm. Not everyone is on board with revitalization efforts.
By David Pierson

>>South Pasadena is the kind of town that takes its history seriously — a place that's proud of slogans like "South Pasadena — where the past is the present" and "South Pasadena: 1888 with all the modern amenities."
Long averse to any change, South Pasadena has embraced an aggressive redevelopment strategy that has brought loft condos, high-end restaurants and trendy shops to a city that has prided itself on a Main Street USA feel even though it's less than seven miles from downtown Los Angeles.

City Hall is pouring millions of dollars into upgrading crowded intersections and repairing an antiquated water system.

The biggest project, however, is a proposed redevelopment of the city's downtown along Mission Street that could bring in dozens of new residential units, new storefronts, underground parking and perhaps a bowling alley.

There is even talk of acquiring the dilapidated Rialto Theatre — a jewel in the eyes of historic preservationists — from private owners in hopes of making it the centerpiece of a spruced-up city core.

The revitalization effort marks a turning point of sorts for South Pasadena, which for decades has focused much of its attention on blocking the extension of the 710.
So far, officials have promised to build slowly and to approve only those designs that blend with the city's architecture. And most important to many, officials have said that no large chain stores or restaurants will be welcomed into the new South Pasadena.
Fear of overcrowding is one of the reasons there was an outcry over a new housing development in the southwest corner of the city named the Ostrich Farm. The so-called live/work building with its concrete-colored interior and showrooms filled with midcentury modern furniture is being offered to tenants who are supposed to work out of their loft apartments.

Some council members and residents feared that the 53-unit building would bring in too many new residents and possibly burden the school district and overload city streets, which have been kept in a notorious state of disrepair over the years. The mayor also questioned whether residents were actually working in their homes.
Some have called for the city to enact an ordinance that prevents chains from opening downtown. Others have expressed concern that the new town center will also add more pressure on the police and fire departments, which are understaffed, forcing the city in recent times to explore contracting with the county for services.<<

I suppose everyone tends to think their hometown is something special, but when major metropolitan newspapers do stories like this, it backs up that notion.

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