Mixed-Use Project, Underground Utilities, Funding Approvals, Museum Donation
By Joe Taglieri
The Arcadia City Council concluded 2015 on Tuesday with a variety of municipal actions that included approving a large combined residential and commercial project on Duarte Road and agreeing to replace utility poles with an underground system on Moreland Avenue adjacent to the forthcoming Rusnak Mercedes dealership.
The project at Duarte Road and First Avenue will include more than 19,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and two upper levels with 37 condominiums, according to a city staff report. Residential units range from one-bedroom, nearly 1,100 square feet to four-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot flats, and commercial space is divided into more than 9,800 square feet for retail and about 9,500 square feet for food service.
The condos will range in price from $550,000 to $795,000, said Michael Hastings, who spoke on behalf of the project applicant.
The developer is James Chou of Pacific Plaza Arcadia, and the architect is Richard Abe.
Though no commercial tenants are lined up at this early stage of the project, the idea is to attract high-end retailers and food service businesses, officials said.
The property owner has received letters of intent from Lohas Supermarket, 85°C Bakery and Limericks Tavern Chop House, according to Hastings and the staff report.
Two residents spoke in favor of the project, while three locals expressed concern about issues such as traffic and parking impacts, privacy for the adjacent neighborhood and nighttime alcohol consumption so close to a residential area.
Officials required more than 40 conditions of approval, including several that council members added just prior to their unanimous thumbs-up for the project. These included limiting rental units to a third of the condominiums; allowing the prospective bakery tenant to operate daily for 16 hours from 5 a.m. to midnight while other commercial tenants can choose a 16-hour period between 6 a.m. and midnight; and requiring wheel-lock systems on shopping carts to keep them on the property and out of neighborhoods.
Rusnak’s Underground Utilities
The council voted 4-1 to authorize a deal with Rusnak Mercedes-Benz in which the city will fund $750,000 of an estimated $1 million project by Southern California Edison to shift overhead utility poles to an underground system.
The company will provide the remaining 25 percent of the project cost and repay the city from sales tax revenue throughout the next decade.
The existing utility poles on Morelan Place border the Rusnak property, which stretches southward to Huntington Drive along Santa Anita Avenue.
“The Agreement includes a promissory note for the reimbursement of the City’s share from future local sales tax revenues from the Rusnak Dealership,” states a city staff report. “If, at the end of 10 years of operation, the City’s share has not been fully reimbursed, Rusnak will be responsible for paying any outstanding balance.”
The report notes a history of unrealized utility undergrounding:
“The undergrounding of these lines had been the focus of several City efforts over the years, including the planned vacation of Morlan Place at one point, and earlier plans to redevelop this area. These projects never went forward. More recently, Rusnak had been considering funding the relocation of the overhead lines to the south side of the street, and they offered to put their relocation funding toward undergrounding the utilities, if the City would fund the balance.”
Council Member Tom Beck voted against the agreement.
“We’re giving them taxpayer money to do this deal,” he said. “They’re paying us back out of sales tax revenue that … we could use for multiple purposes. … I don’t agree that we should use this taxpayer money to benefit this one business owner in town.”
City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto explained the deal as amounting to $875,000 paid by Rusnak annually over 10 years, which represents the loan repayment on top of the $800,000 base of sales tax revenue the dealership provides each year.
“That dealership is like having an annuity to this city with the investment that they ultimately make,” Mayor Pro Tem Roger Chandler said.
Funding and Donation
Council members approved the following funding expenditures: $57,500 to Anaheim-based Amtech Elevator Services to upgrade the Arcadia Library’s elevator; $70,000 to Sigmanet for computer hardware and software in an effort to upgrade the Police Department’s dispatch and records management system.
The city received a $10,000 donation from the Arcadia Museum Foundation for artifacts, supplies and programming at the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage.