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Baldwin Park Thinks Big on Development : City of 60,000 Goes 'After Every Nickel' in Funding

Fifth in a series dealing with Southland communities experiencing rapid growth.

October 04, 1987|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

City officials in Baldwin Park are overjoyed at neighboring Irwindale's move to be the new home of the Los Angeles Raiders, but they wish the news media would start adding Baldwin Park jokes to those already circulating about Irwindale.

"In the Invisible Valley--the San Gabriel Valley--we're the Invisible City," City Manager Ralph H. Webb said. "If the Raiders come to Irwindale, Baldwin Park and West Covina will be immediate winners. We'd like more recognition, even in the form of jokes."

Settled 100 years ago and incorporated in 1956, Baldwin Park has 60,000 residents, six redevelopment projects and is home to the Southland's newest Vons Pavilions super-supermarket. It was also the only city west of the Mississippi River to receive a federal Urban Development Action Grant in the mid-1985 funding round, according to John Hemer, director of housing and economic development.

"We go after every nickel, every dime, every dollar we can get," he said, referring to the city's aggressive redevelopment policy.

Under Construction

The $2,678,000-million UDAG funding helped create the Baldwin Park Towne Center, a $32-million mixed-use project, developed by Irvine-based Stanley W. Gribble & Associates, under construction at Garvey and Puente avenues, on the north side of the San Bernardino (10) Freeway. Coldwell Banker is the leasing agent.

Occupying a 17.54-acre site, the project in Baldwin Park's Puente/Merced Redevelopment district will become the new eastern gateway to the city, Webb said. In addition to the 67,000-square-foot Vons Pavilions market, tenants already committed include a 200-room Hilton hotel with a conference center and a restaurant and almost 40 shops and restaurants.

The architect for the center is McClelland Cruz Gaylord & Associates, Irvine, while the Hilton hotel will be designed by Mitchell Carlson & Associates, Houston, according to Baldwin Park redevelopment manager Beverly Pearce. The 10-story hotel will be developed by Vista Hosts under franchise from Hilton, she said.

According to project architect Ed Craker of McClelland Cruz Gaylord, the shopping center design is unusual in that the Vons has given up all its frontage except for an elaborate entrance.

Resembling a Mall

"Typically, an anchoring store like this will have a huge expanse of frontage," he said. "In our design, tenant shops, unrelated to Vons, will occupy the store's front space. The entrance to Vons has been designed to resemble a mall entrance with a two-level, arched, skylighted treatment."

Pearce said the project has been in the planning stage for more than a decade and is an opportunity to enhance the image of Baldwin Park. The Puente-Merced project was initiated in 1978 and amended in 1982 and 1984, she added.

Adjacent to the new center is the Sierra Vista redevelopment project, at 477 acres the city's largest and newest. It was adopted in 1986. The three non-contiguous areas of Sierra Vista include one that roughly parallels both sides of the San Bernardino Freeway between the 605 Freeway and Merced Avenue. The second is located northeast of the central business district on both sides of Bogart Avenue, while the third is east of the business district project along Ramona Boulevard.

Hemer said that current plans for the Sierra Vista project include a 400-bed Kaiser Permanente Hospital that will employ more than 2,800 persons and a 20-acre shopping center by Dicker/Warmington, in the area bounded by Francisquito Avenue, Baldwin Park Boulevard and the San Bernardino Freeway.

Agreements Signed

The city's next largest redevelopment area is the San Gabriel River project, adopted in 1976 and consisting of two triangular parcels totaling 189 acres in the northwest corner of the city, next to Irwindale.

Hemer said that development agreements have been signed for all the vacant land in the project area. The area includes the 45-acre Baldwin Park Commerce Center, with 800,000 square feet of space in four phases. The first two phases have been completed.

Another project in the area features about 858,000 square feet of office, industrial and manufacturing space being developed by Ellis Sloan Burnett Properties on a 36.5-acre parcel known as the Brooks Products property.

Home Savings of America, which has its corporate headquarters in an elaborately landscaped campus-like office park in adjoining Irwindale, is planning an expansion in Baldwin Park's San Gabriel River project, Hemer said.

Business Districts

The two central business district projects are the West Ramona Boulevard project, a 12-acre parcel of former railroad land along Ramona Boulevard, and the Central Business District project, about 130 acres in the heart of the city.

Adopted in 1979, the West Ramona Boulevard project has a 160-unit condominium project, completed in 1985 by Allwest Development, and a small shopping center by Arnold Pacific Properties, also completed in 1985. A small retail center is planned for the nearly two acres remaining in the area, Hemer said.

Initiated in 1982, the Central Business District project is targeted for residential, commercial and institutional uses, including the City Hall at 14403 E. Pacific Ave., Webb said.

The sixth project is the Delta Project, a 92-acre tract adopted in 1983 in the extreme southwest corner of the city, where the 605 and San Bernardino freeways meet. Baldwin Park Partners is developing 260,000 square feet of industrial buildings over a three-year period, Hemer said. The first phase of 110,000 square feet is under construction.

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