Council Places Trio of Bets on Future of Downtown

Council approves funding of Downtown parking study and professional consultant, and approves a Downtown parade.

What do San Gabriel Valley cities such as Pasadena, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, Covina, Glendale, Montrose, and others have that Arcadia does not?

A thriving downtown.

What else do many of those same cities – Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Covina, as well as Temple City and others have that Arcadia doesn’t?

A traditional downtown community parade.

In a refreshing burst of support for almost everything presented to the Council last week, the City Council quietly took three steps towards changing all that to come more in line with our neighbors. Two steps were related to rejuvenating Arcadia’s original Downtown district centered at the intersection of Huntington Drive and First Avenue. The Council approved spending more than $18,000 on a professional consultant to advise a new grass roots Downtown Business Association headed by owner Matt McSweeny. The consultant will help guide the group in determining their most beneficial organizational and self-taxing structure.

The Council also approved spending about $93,000 on a study of parking in the area, and how it might be improved.

Both are expected to be funded by Redevelopment Agency money that can only be spent on such projects, and which may be taken away soon by Governor Brown.

Personally, in addition to the multi-level parking garage to be built at the upcoming new Gold Line train station on Santa Clara at the northwest corner of First Avenue, I think the city should work with the two banks on the east side of First Avenue, south of Huntington Dr. and Alta St., to expand their street level parking into multi-level garages in the heart of Downtown.

Then there needs to be more restaurant choices that complement Matt Denny’s and more coffee shops that double as hang-outs, such as .

Finally, the Council approved the city’s first parade to celebrate our nation’s independence on July 2, also in the Downtown on First Avenue south of Huntington Dr. Produced by a non-profit group that includes myself, Arcadia’s Best Patriotic Festival will also feature a display of special cars of all sorts owned by Arcadia residents and business people, a performance area for local bands and dance groups, and gourmet food trucks and street vendors.

All this City Council support comes more than a decade after the City spent many millions of dollars on the Downtown 2000 project which resulted in the area’s period street lamps, benches, sidewalk design and angled parking on First Avenue.

But there was not enough follow-up push to entice new businesses.

It appears that this time things are moving in the right direction and will get a kick-off on July 2 at an event that will also feature a peek into the near future with a large 40’ x 20’ exhibit of the coming Gold Line.

Read more by Scott Hettrick at ArcadiasBest.com.

Ross S. Heckmann March 25, 2011 at 03:21 AM
I wish I knew how Arcadia's downtown could be improved; I would say so if I knew. However, I see in this week's (3/24/11-3/330/11) Arcadia Weekly that Susan Motander has begun a series on how redevelopment was brought to Monrovia including Old Town Monrovia. I also see in this week's Pasadena Weekly (3/24/11) that there is a short article about the history of how Old Town Pasadena was revitalized and a man who had a leading role in it, Jim Plotkin. I would not suggest that Arcadia can or should simply copy what these other two cities have done, but I would suggest that there probably is much that can be learned from their sucessful efforts. If we have enough humility, and if they were willing, it probably wouldn't hurt to talk to the people who had leading roles in these revitalizations and maybe get their input on how we in Arcadia might improve.
Scott Hettrick March 30, 2011 at 07:13 AM
We're on the same page -- already done this - the Downtown Biz Association invited the leader of Monrovia's downtown revival to speak to the group several months ago, and recently the leader of Pasadena's downtown revival presented a Powerpoint and Q&A about that project that was decades in the making. All great insight and lots of great warnings of what to avoid, and what things worked the best. Scott
Ross S. Heckmann March 31, 2011 at 09:31 PM
That's very encouraging to hear. I get the impression that Arcadia is at or near the point of assembling a critical mass of people committed to the revitalization of downtown Arcadia, who will learn from, rather than being discouraged by, the setbacks that inevitably have and will occur along the way. Though I do not have the expertise to help in this process I can at least be a well-wisher and (for whatever it's worth) offer praise encouragement that appears to be well-deserved. Thanks to you & everybody else working on this; I look forward to what the future holds.
Edward Huang April 01, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Downtown revitalization often takes many steps and toward many directions. In early 90s, the City had done studies, and consequently made improvements to downtown. Consultant's recommendations from what I recall were partially implemented, and I'm glad to see we now are taking additional steps. On top of what the city is doing, I propose the City to work with the Main Street Program of Ntional Trust for Historic Preservation. The program will provide assistance and a designation of Main Street to a downtown, which helps to establish an identity for our downtown. Knowing that designation will not work by itself in terms of a successful revitalization, but it is another step that we shall take. We need to form an unique & story-telling place for our downtown in order to making it atteactive.
Gail Marshall April 02, 2011 at 12:30 AM
The biggest problem with the redevelopment area, mainly on First Avenue, is the parking problem. I think this will be the biggest hurdle to solve. Tiered parking is very expensive but ultimately is the only answer as I see it to this problem. This has been long overdue. The Gold Line is going to be the driving force that Arcadia needs to take advantage of. I hope this dream comes true for the community. Thank you and all involved for the great foresight and work involved in this process. I think Arcadia is in for an exciting future.


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