The disputes surrounding the Pasadena Marketplace do not pit "profits" against "preservation." What happens to the historic character of the buildings has important business consequences, for two reasons.
First, historic character is the most important resource for the revitalization of Old Pasadena. People may first come to see the movies, but they stay to wander through the streets and shops because of their atmosphere. Get rid of the historic scale and beauty, and Old Pasadena has little more to offer than do miles of other commercial streets in the San Gabriel Valley.
Second, the developers have never convinced the entire community that the Marketplace will actually help Old Pasadena. A look at nearly every shopping mall and festival marketplace shows that such intense internalization easily proves detrimental to the surrounding businesses. The developer's interest is to keep people inside. Only in a few locations have surrounding merchants been successful in competing with the shopping mall.
The preservation position is not intended merely to save some pretty buildings, but to support development that will create an urban environment with the greatest potential for assuring the entire area's long-term prosperity.
PAUL H. GLEYE
Gleye is a former head of Pasadena's Urban Conservation Office.