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The Derby Arcadia – What’s Next?

The Derby
Statues of jockeys adorn the Derby and welcomed guests to the historic dining rooms pre-coronavirus. The restaurant has suffered significant losses, as have most restaurants, as a direct result of indoor dining being prohibited. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Last week we wrote about the proposed moving of 99-year-old The Derby restaurant in Arcadia to allow a mixed-use development on the very lot where the restaurant now rests.

The next steps are for the developer (of The Derby project) to submit an actual application for the zone change, designs, and other entitlements they are seeking, according to Arcadia City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto. “Part of that submittal package will include environmental reviews, parking studies, traffic studies, and other technical reports that will enable everyone to fully understand the proposal. Part of that environmental assessment will be a historic resources review. Relocating a building is a common and accepted means of preserving a historic resource such as The Derby,” Lazaretto said.

The significant project will require robust planning and may take years, if approved. However, local historians and some community members are crying foul as it appears that part of Arcadia’s history may be threatened to be wiped out by bulldozers, much like the Anoakia 50-room mansion/estate in 1999. Anoakia was the historic home of Lucky Baldwin’s daughter and was razed in 1999 after a council decision, despite considerable public outcry and offers to preserve that landmark.

Although the project does not call for the demise of The Derby, speculation is high that this could happen, especially as the restaurant industry has been hit so hard by the coronavirus.

The Derby. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

George Woolf bought The Derby in 1938, originally named the Proctor Tavern when it operated in 1922. Its proximity to the racetrack attracted horse owners and horse betters alike. In 1931, it moved to its present location at 233 E. Huntington Drive. It was here that Woolf became co-owner in 1938 with his partner Bill Peterson.

In 1946, Woolf was fatally injured when he was thrown from his mount “Please Me” during the running of the fourth race at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 3, 1946. Bronze statues of Woolf and Seabiscuit remain at Santa Anita today.

Arcadia Weekly will follow this story closely and report any major developments as they come to light. As always, we welcome community input on this and any other issues facing the city.

August 13, 2020

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