ARCADIA — The city has embarked on a $1-million revitalization program to spruce up one of the most heavily traveled and least attractive sections of this affluent area--a short stretch of Huntington Drive's business district running from Santa Anita Avenue on the west to 5th Avenue on the Monrovia border.
A study of the area prepared over the last two years by Willdan Associates, the city's planning consultant, found that although the overall physical condition of the area is good, the city should take steps to upgrade some buildings and prevent deterioration of others.
"This area is in need of a face lift and I think the established merchants care. I am in favor of anything we can do to upgrade our image," said Jack McGlasson, co-owner and manager of Sullivan Paint Co.
City to Pay $19,000
Upgrading the area will cost the city only $19,000 of its own funds--for a promotional brochure to encourage prospective business owners to locate in the area.
Most of the funding for the program, which is expected to get under way early next year, will come from federal community development block grants. The federal funds will be used to pay for the development of design guidelines, and for colored paving blocks in seven crosswalks, new landscaping, benches, trash containers and signs. They will also cover part of the cost of placing utility lines underground. Some money has also been set aside for rebates to entice merchants to improve their property.
The revitalization program is designed to complement redevelopment projects completed or under way in the same area, said Donna Butler, a city planner. The two programs share the goal of upgrading the area, she said, adding that while revitalization concentrates on the rehabilitation of existing small businesses, redevelopment focuses on replacing older, less desirable businesses.
The city's redevelopment efforts have been focused on Huntington Drive east of 2nd Avenue and have resulted in a hotel, medical center, bank building and commercial office development. An office building and two commercial projects are in the planning stages. One, on the north side of Huntington Drive, will include a restaurant and hotel or office building, and the other, on the south side of the street, will include retail stores, an office building and three restaurants.
Larger Project too Costly
The city decided on the revitalization program for the short Huntington Drive stretch because it is not economically feasible to redevelop the entire area, said Peter Kinnahan, assistant city manager for economic development.
Most of the revitalization efforts will be concentrated on the area west of 2nd Avenue, which houses florists, barber and beauty shops, hardware stores and television retailers. Some of the buildings are vacant.
Efforts will focus on correcting inconsistencies in the signs and colors of existing buildings and on improving the landscaping.
Merchants agreed that any efforts to upgrade the area would be desirable but some expressed skepticism as to how well the program would work.
"There is no way to make the area homogenous because the buildings are of different ages and different setbacks, so visually it is difficult," said Ken Edwards, owner of Pip Instant Printer and the building that houses it.
"My building is right on the sidewalk, the one next to me is set back 18 inches and the one next to that is set back five feet.
"Anything to spruce us up a bit will be good, but while they may change the hair style, the face will still be the same," Edwards said.
Don Jaynes, who owns the building housing his business, Gockley's Stationers, said, "Arcadia people like to shop here so we need to make the area attractive to them. But I've heard before that the city will do something and then it doesn't happen. Arcadia is supposed to be an affluent town and it is a shame to let one section go.
"I would be willing to participate in programs to upgrade my property, depending on the cost."
The first step for the Planning Department will be development of design guidelines for architectural control to encourage a sense of identity in the area. Planners will spell out development standards for new projects and for renovation of existing structures. Included will be colors, materials, signs, parking and landscaping. The $5,000 cost of developing the guidelines will be paid by block grant funds.
Colored Paving Blocks
The grants will also pay the $215,000 it will cost to install colored paving blocks in the crosswalk areas of seven major intersections in the area, and the $30,000 cost of replacing the existing bottlebrush trees along the street with ficus trees. The study showed that the bottlebrushes look messy and do not lend themselves to shaping.
At the same time the new trees go in, the city intends to use $18,500 in grant funds to purchase new benches and trash containers for the area.