Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Year In Review

You know one of our guilty pleasures around here? No, it's not Keeping Up with the Kardashians... We're slightly addicted to those year-end web articles that show up around this time rehashing the big events of the past 12 months. December is one of those times when we take stock and look at what we've accomplished, what we can do better, and what we are pursuing for the next 12 months. After our extensive year-end assessment of 2016 (which consisted of looking at our previous blog posts), we can reach only one conclusion - it has been quite a year! So, in that spirit, we'd like to proudly present to you Community Development's top ten list of 2016 achievements:

10. 5th & Huntington and MODA Break Ground - Have noticed something a little different at the western gateway of the City and at Station Square? Maybe some buildings under construction? If you have seen them and you're wondering what they are, wonder no more! Two large residential projects broke ground this year - a 154 unit building at 5th Avenue and Huntington Drive and a 261 unit building at Station Square. These big projects have been in the works for a few years now, and we are excited to finally see the results. Now, there's only one enduring mystery to solve - what does MODA mean? Is it an acronym for Monrovia Offers Definite Awesomeness? Is it a reference to Depeche Mode? Your guess is as good as ours. Actually, considering our guesses above, your guess is probably better than ours.

9. Monrovia Celebrates a Once-in-a-Century Event - As we ZIP up this year, we fondly reflect upon Monrovia ZIP day (9/10/16), which was an event 100 years in the making. Monrovians celebrated this special day as we do many big moments in town, with a big ol' party in Library Park. We had such a good time that we can't wait for the next Monrovia ZIP day party! See you all on September 10, 2116!  One question, will the Post Office still be around?

8. The Stars Come Out - You know how your out-of-state friends and family always ask if you've met anyone famous? Well, now you can add your very own hometown to the fame list! Monrovia hosted quite a few filming productions in 2016. Car commercials, student films, and even a music video captured our beautiful downtown, historic homes, and gorgeous open space. Television shows including CSI Cyber, Maron, and American Crime all chose Monrovia as the backdrop for an episode or two. And the movie The House with Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell spent a few days filming in Old Town. Look out, Hollywood, Monrovia's giving you a run for your money - we already have our own hillside sign!

7. Shopping Center Gets a New Lease on Life... and Several New Leases - Picture this... a Home Goods, a TJ Maxx, and an ALDI right here in Monrovia. That's right, those big names will soon appear at the shopping center at 725 East Huntington Drive! Additionally, the center itself will have a new look and a new name...goodbye "Huntington Shamrock Shopping Center", hello "Monrovia Landing." We think the new name is perfect - Monrovia once again landed at the top of our list of great San Gabriel Valley cities.

6. The Depot Embarks on a New Journey - 2016 was huge for one of our very special historic buildings! Not only did the Santa Fe Depot at Station Square receive local historic landmark status, but it was also approved to be the site of a new restaurant and will undergo an extensive rehabilitation to restore its former splendor. It's wonderful to see this historic train station start a journey of its own!

5. The New Building Code is Approved - The adoption of the tri-annual California Building Code update is a massive achievement for our Building Division. That's no joke! In fact, the new code is so unfunny that our Building Division Manager decided to retire! We thank him for his years of dedicated service - he will be missed!

4. Neighborhood Services Wins National Recognition - We just have to brag about the amazing work our Neighborhood Services team does! And 2016 was the year that the rest of the nation noticed how our little city inspires community, revitalizes neighborhoods, and encourages civic participation. In fact, our very own Monrovia Area Partnership (MAP) program won three awards at the 2016 Neighborhoods USA annual conference. We claimed 1st place for our MAP Neighborhood Newsletter, and 2nd place for both our Care for your Neighbor Program and MAP Youth Leadership Academy! Neighborhood Services really knows how clean up - in every sense!

3. Public Art Abounds - The Art in Public Places program was just like butter this year - it was really on a roll! Get it? Butter on a roll? But, really, this year, Monrovia became even more beautiful through this program. Mechanical boxes were given a fresh coat, a new kinetic art piece was placed in front of City Hall, and a three piece bronze sculpture found a home in front of the Krikorian Theater. And did you see the awesome new book mural in the Library? But it doesn't stop there - 2017 promises to be another big year for #artinmonrovia (which just happens to be our Instagram handle)!

2. Monrovia Enters a "Golden" Era - Ok, Ok, we can't take full credit for this one. This multi-decade project was the product of every City Department, elected official, and concerned resident's work. In March, the METRO Goldline extension opened, along with Monrovia Station Square! People around here were VERY excited to ride the rails and take advantage of free trips that day. Trains were so packed with people, that we now understand how clowns feel getting in and out of those little cars.

1. New Demolition Review and Neighborhood Compatibility Ordinances Take Effect - We talked about compatibility so much this year, you'd think we ran an online dating service! But, all of that chatter resulted in two new ordinances that will serve to preserve historic architecture and ensure that new development fits with the existing character of our Monrovia neighborhoods.

Well, what can we say? It's all in a year's work. We are looking forward to continuing to serve this amazing city in 2017 and beyond. Until then, Happy Holidays from the entire Community Development team!