Thursday, March 20, 2014

A sign of things to come...and signs too

The Development Review Committee (DRC) had a plethora of applications on the docket for review: an addition to an old house, a new house, lots of business activity and something really big.  Keep reading.

Three business wall signs were approved.  RPM Garage at 1136 South Myrtle Avenue and Glenridge Pool Supplies at 1206 South Myrtle Avenue are both new to Monrovia.  Welcome!  Also, Finishline Construction had their signage approved for their new location at 823 South Magnolia Avenue.

We’re always happy to see new businesses come to town and we’re even more excited when they thrive.  Old Town favorite, Peach CafĂ© (141 East Colorado Boulevard) has been open only for breakfast and lunch for the past 8 years.  Now that there's more and more nightlife, the owner thought it was time to start opening for dinner too.  DRC agreed.  So what we really want to know is if we can have hickory maple waffles for breakfast, lunch AND dinner? 

And the big item on the agenda?  A proposal for the first development in Station Square.  Finally.  ("What's Station Square?" Read more here.)  

About 10 years ago, the extension of the GoldLine moved from being a dream to reality and Monrovia began to develop its plans for the future.  BIG plans.  Alas, then came the Great Recession and then the shutdown of all redevelopment agencies in the state, including the Monrovia’s. 

The vision, retooled, is still big, but perhaps more realistic for the current times.  Several months ago, Staff began working with local developer Samuelson Fetter on the first new development in Station Square.  

At the meeting, DRC had their first review of the project in a process we call the “pre-application consultation”.  Fancy term for preliminary review.  This is an opportunity for DRC to review, comment and provide guidance on the proposal before the application is prepared and the formal process begins.  What is being proposed is a five-story, 261-unit apartment building that will be right next to the Monrovia Gold Line station. 

It was a very productive session, with Fire, Police, Public Works and Planning each giving direction and suggestion in their various disciplines.  We anticipate that the project will move into the public hearing phase in June.  We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.

Next time you're in the area on a 2 PM...stop by to see DRC in action.  (That's every other Wednesday.  Check the website for details...and the agenda.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Anniversary Peck Road Specific Plan

Who knew?

Although, there was no big party, we celebrated quietly with the Planning Commission at their March 12 meeting with a public hearing.  We know what you’re thinking, those wild and crazy Planners!

The request was for a new vehicle storage business proposed at 3331 Peck Road which is within the Peck Road Specific Plan.  The property is way down at the very southern tip of Monrovia.  South of the Duarte Road.  South of where Myrtle Avenue and Peck Road merge.  South of Live Oak Avenue.  This area is primarily known for gravel pits, Dry Dock, and Pick-a-Part.  (Yes, one of those gravel pits is in Monrovia.)

Peck Road Specific Plan Area
The new home of Jorge's Get Around Transport
Jorge’s Get Around Transport provides private transportation services in the area and will use this property to store their vehicles.  The property was previously improved for a similar business, so it’s a great match. 

This whole site has a long and not so glamorous history.  Many years ago, it started its commercial life as a quarry.  Then to fill the hole, it was used as a dump.  Once filled, there was a mobile home park…which started to sink and was then condemned. 

What to do with a property that can’t support buildings? 

In 1989, the Monrovia City Council adopted the Peck Road Specific Plan (PRSP) to identify the types of businesses that would be appropriate under these difficult conditions.  Over these past 25 years, the PRSP has been very successful in balancing the challenges of the site while maintaining the economic vitality of the property.  It’s always satisfying when the plan works.

Oh, yes, the Planning Commission unanimously and enthusiastically approved the conditional use permit and welcomed Jorge’s to Monrovia.

So, here’s an interesting bit of trivia.  This is the only area that we know of where you can pass through five different communities in the span of about a mile.  Seriously!  Along Myrtle Avenue/Peck Road between Wyland Way and Rio Hondo Parkway, you’ll drive through an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, Monrovia, Irwindale, (Monrovia, passing Jorge’s, and Irwindale again), Arcadia, and El Monte.

There’s an interesting story about how this part of Monrovia became Monrovia.  Remind us to tell you about it sometime.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Coming to Town: Massage Envy

Massage Envy is coming soon to a portion of the former Blockbuster video location on Foothill Boulevard.  Tenant improvements (T.I.s) are still being made at the multi-tenant property, and we’d like to share with you a cool find.  Uncovered beneath the former Blockbuster site’s interior veneer is brick and concrete siding painted with a Ford logo.   

The lettering is only partial, so we’ll have to do a little digging in the archives to find out more.  In the coming weeks, we hope to bring you some details about the property’s history.  If you have any information that you’d like to share with us, we’d be happy to hear from you by email or phone (626) 932-5565. 

Aside from Massage Envy, a few vacancies still exist at the property, and we’ll keep you up to date on those units as soon as we hear something. 

Why Did Blockbuster Leave Us?

O how the times have changed.  It seems only yesterday that Blockbuster was the heavyweight champ of home entertainment.  Having effortlessly put mom and pop contenders and other national chains down on the canvas, Blockbuster looked to be the unconquerable champion.  However, sticking (and moving) with our boxing analogy, Blockbuster didn't see the left hook coming.     

According to legend, a man named Reed Hastings returned a late copy of Apollo 13 to his local Blockbuster in 1997. He was assessed a $40 late fee in what was likely the costliest charge of Blockbuster's existence. Two years later, the worm turned and Mr. Hastings founded Netflix.  In 2000, Blockbuster reportedly had the opportunity to purchase Netflix for $50 million, but passed. As Netflix gained more of a following and market share increased, Blockbuster attempted to catch up with the mail order service by copying pieces of the red envelope company's business model. In an attempt to compete with another red colored company, Redbox, Blockbuster also ventured out into the standalone kiosk model.  Dethroned by contenders such as Netflix and Redbox, the once complacent champ has struggled to return to its former glory. 

Fast forward to the present, streaming media is the new frontier of home entertainment. The options are plentiful and the competition is fierce.  Netflix, Amazon, Redbox, Roku, Hulu, and cable or satellite providers offer thousands of options at your fingertips.

As for Blockbuster, it was purchased by DISH in 2011. All remaining brick and mortar store locations have been closed, with the exception of 50 locations nationwide.  So why keep the 50 open?  They're independently owned mom and pops with no plans to call it quits.