WHITTIER — Architects for Urbatech Corp. are scrambling to revise their design of a controversial $26-million development after the City Council rejected a site plan already approved by the city's design-review board.
Council members, acting in their dual role as the city's redevelopment agency, voted 3 to 2 to send Urbatech back to the drawing board for the 16-acre triangle of land bordered by Whittier Boulevard and Hadley and Philadelphia streets.
The decision was unexpected because Mayor Thomas Sawyer joined council members Helen Rahder and Bob Henderson in voting against the site plan. In the past, Sawyer has most often belonged to a pro-development majority voting bloc that includes members Robert Woehrmann and Myron Claxton.
At the meeting of the agency last week, Rahder and Henderson raised a series of questions about the development, which would include a large market, drugstore, restaurants and some 20 other smaller stores. Henderson worried that a proposed retaining wall behind the shopping center would become a target for graffiti and create an unpleasant facade for people walking or driving west down Philadelphia Street. Rahder noted the design departed substantially from an earlier artist's conception.