POMONA — It's difficult to think positively when a community ended a year with the construction of only one new single-family house, as this city of 112,000 did in 1976.
Thinking positively means never getting into a situation like the one that prevailed from about 1974 to 1976, when new housing construction was virtually unknown in Pomona, according to Sanford A. Sorensen, the city's director of community development.
Single-family housing construction reached a peak of 648 units in 1963, a total that wasn't reached again until the record 819 units of 1979, he added. Last year saw the construction of 235 single-family houses, Sorensen said.
The city's slogan these days is "Pomona Positively!" and thanks to its creative use of redevelopment and bond financing programs, Pomona is developing housing in all price ranges, from affordable downtown apartments for senior citizens to move-up houses like those in Phillips Ranch.
Major Turning Point
The development of Phillips Ranch in the southern part of the city in the late 1970s was a major turning point for the city--and redevelopment gets the credit, along with yeoman work by Sorensen since 1967 on the 2,200-acre Phillips Ranch, according to city administrator Ora E. Lampman.
"We have 10 redevelopment areas in the city, including the Phillips Ranch master-planned community," he said.
Now that Phillips Ranch is nearing completion, the city is concentrating on Pomona Towne Center, a $60-million, 18-city-block redevelopment area bounded by 1st Street on the north, Mission Boulevard on the south, Towne Avenue on the east and Gibbs Street on the west. The area is in the heart of Pomona's traditional downtown, with a Buffum's department store right in the middle.
The initial phase of development, bounded by Eleanor Street on the west, will be consist of moderately priced apartments by Bauer Redevelopment Group of Newport Beach. Also included will be 512 mini-storage units and a small commercial site.
Senior Citizens and Adults
The complex will consist of two distinct projects: The Park, with one- and two-bedroom units for seniors, and The Plaza, with one- and two-bedroom units for adults who want the convenience of in-town living just a few minutes northeast of the city's civic center at Mission Boulevard and Garey Avenue.
There will be 288 units in the first two phases of The Park and 280 in the first two phases of The Plaza, according to Julie Hutchinson, director of marketing for Bauer.
If Bauer is successful in acquiring all the parcels in the redevelopment area, as many as 1,340 apartments could be constructed, she said.
"The rents of about $385 to $595 a month for the adult units and just under that for the senior apartments wouldn't be possible without the $17.85-million bond financing program and the city's cooperation on housing density and the size of the units," said Warren L. Bauer, president of Bauer Development Co. and partner in the Bauer Redevelopment Group.
Experience Paid Off
The bond program was completed in 35 days, a remarkably short time for such a major effort, he said. It typically takes five or six months to put together a bond financing program, he said, but experience gained in putting together two such programs in Phillips Ranch paid off for the downtown project.
Mercury Savings & Loan is the lender for the project, and the city, in return for assembling the land, putting in utilities and other infrastructure elements and making improvement to major streets, will receive 30% of the net profits from the rents from the new apartments, Hutchinson said.
"In today's business climate, it's virtually impossible to build in a mature city like Pomona without redevelopment and a partnership between the city and the developer," Bauer said. "Without a cooperative city government like Pomona's and bond financing, we couldn't have attempted a large-scale rental project in the heart of the city."
Mayor G. Stanton Selby believes that Pomona has the "right mix" of ethnic groups--Anglo, black, Hispanic and Asian--for a major governmental, industrial and commercial outpost of sprawling Los Angeles County about 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
It certainly doesn't hurt the city to have Ontario International Airport less than 10 minutes to the east and to be adjacent to Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
With its civic center and municipal and superior courts serving eastern Los Angeles County, Pomona has a status similar to Van Nuys and Santa Monica in civil and criminal court activity for the county.
Pomona is a center of education with 18,000-student Cal Poly Pomona inside the city and the six Claremont Colleges in adjacent Claremont. Other institutions of higher education in or near Pomona include the University of La Verne, Mt. San Antonio Community College and the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.