Hoping to create a setting worthy of the San Gabriel Mission and attract businesses and tourists to the area, the City Council unanimously approved a plan to beautify and redesign the streets surrounding the historic landmark.
The design by a landscape architecture firm in Irvine aims to unify the district with trees, street lamps and decorative paving reflecting the character of the Mission. The plan would close a block of Mission Drive, between Ramona Street and Junipero Serra Drive, so that Plaza Park could be extended to the Mission's entrance. Portions of Mission Drive and Santa Anita Street would be narrowed to slow traffic and make the area seem friendlier to pedestrians.
The plan is designed to encourage development of a cafe district across from the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium.
A parking lot for bus commuters and a cafe are also planned for the existing site of Panchito's restaurant. The city is still negotiating for the property, City Administrator P. Michael Paules said Wednesday.
The council Tuesday awarded the Dike Partnership of Irvine a $98,000 contract to draw up specifications for those bidding on the first phase of the project, which will focus on Mission Drive between Las Tunas Drive and Junipero Serra Drive. The firm will make detailed traffic studies for the entire project and supervise construction of the initial phase.
More than 90% of the money for the planning and construction will come from county and state funds, Paules said.
Paules said bidding could begin this summer. Construction could begin in the fall and might be completed as soon as January.
In other matters, the council unanimously granted the county authority to synchronize traffic signals along Las Tunas Drive to enhance traffic flow.