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Trader Joe's Planning to Move to Monrovia

May 31, 2000|INDRANEEL SUR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Privately held specialty grocer Trader Joe's is in discussions to move its corporate headquarters from several scattered office sites in South Pasadena to a single building in Monrovia, officials said Tuesday.

Trader Joe's, known for its discounted gourmet offerings and irreverent advertisement fliers, is planning to move to a 30,000-square-foot office building that would be built on 3.6 acres on the site of a former Boeing Co. manufacturing plant in Monrovia. Investment Development Services of Los Angeles would develop the property for Trader Joe's, according to documents filed with Monrovia's community development department.

The growing company, which owns 137 stores in 11 states, began searching for new space as early as last June, South Pasadena City Manager Sean Joyce said. The city suggested Trader Joe's develop one of several vacant lots, including one belonging to the South Pasadena school district, but those suggestions were rejected for reasons he would not discuss. "We would be very sorry to see them leave," Joyce said.

The first Trader Joe's store was founded in South Pasadena in 1967. Spokeswoman Pat St. John said the company would have no comment about the proposed move.

In 1998, Boeing closed a former McDonnell Douglas plant on the 13-acre Monrovia site bounded by Royal Oaks Drive to the north, and Mountain and Shamrock avenues to the east and west, said Glenn Cox, Monrovia's assistant executive director for redevelopment.

Final decisions about the move have yet to be made. The Trader Joe's development is still subject to approval by the city of Monrovia, but at least one official hopes it will come to pass.

"It means a lot to us to have the headquarters of a vibrant company come to our town," said Lara Larramendi Blakely, a Monrovia city councilwoman.

Although South Pasadena has some office space for smaller companies, it does not offer large institutional buildings, unlike some of its San Gabriel Valley neighbors, said Nico Vilgiate, a director in the Los Angeles office of Insignia/ESG, a commercial real estate company. Demand for space among small businesses remains high, he said, meaning that if Trader Joe's moves, its old space probably will not remain vacant for long.

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