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Long-Delayed Shopping Center Project Gains Ground


A plan to build northwest Pasadena's first shopping center is back on track now that Danny Bakewell's development company has agreed to pay for the removal of a condemned strip mall on the site of the city-assisted project.

Responding to the City Council's rejection of his request for a $71,000 loan to help clear the way for the Fair Oaks Renaissance Plaza, Bakewell said Wednesday that his firm will foot the bill so the long-delayed project can move forward.

"We're back on track and and moving fast, finally, at last," said Bakewell. "We're enthusiastic about getting this show on the road. The residents have waited too long."

Bakewell expects work to begin within 30 days.

"The northwest community is finally going to get this positive asset," said Vice Mayor Chris Holden, whose district includes the center.

Holden said the project, a year behind schedule, was held to different standards than others.

"Because Danny Bakewell was the issue it became important to see how many obstacles could be designed to trip him up. The staff and others have let personalities enter in their decision-making when the bottom line is we are looking at revitalizing a depressed area," Holden said.

Two weeks ago, the council--which has already agreed to sell the property, bought by the city for about $11 million, to Bakewell for $1.5 million--refused to provide any extra funds to the developer.

The council said it would not give more than the $122,000 it previously agreed to provide Bakewell for clearing the site at Orange Grove Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue, despite his request for the $71,000 loan to cover asbestos removal until a bank loan for the project is available.

Councilman Bill Crowfoot, a supporter of the project, mused that if it failed because of the small sum, critics--who have charged that the center is a gift of public funds--might be right.

Nonetheless, Bakewell said he had agreed only to demolish the existing structures and not to remove asbestos. But he said he is putting that behind him, and has filed for permits for the site clearing and asbestos removal.

Although work will not begin for a few weeks, city officials said that by filing for those permits, Bakewell is in compliance with a deadline in the city's agreement with the developer to begin demolition this week.

"I think it complies even though we haven't seen a shovel yet," said Assistant City Atty. Ted Reynolds.

Meanwhile, city project manager Fred Jones said Bakewell has signed a new amended development agreement for the 69,000-square-foot project approved by the council in March.

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