Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pomona's Third Street Promenade

"Third Street Promenade"
Originally uploaded by PrincessBuddha
This article in the Daily Bulletin is the type of story I like to read about Pomona. Sounds like something akin to Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade is in the works for Pomona's Third street, at least in the night time, and minus the usual corporate shops. I think this is a good move. The way to become a destination spot is not to make yourself generic, so I am excited about this plan. I'm also hoping they make Third Street a daytime destination spot by putting in something like the Chino children's museum to get families into the area.

I will admit to being a fan of Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, mostly for the people watching, not the usual suspect of shops. My favorites there have been the smaller, independently-owned stores, most of which have closed up on me due to the ever increasing rent: Noteworthy Stationery store and Benita Frites (best french fries outside of Amsterdam) to name just two. I do still go to the outdoor crepe cafe there.

This new development makes me realize there's at least one or two people who know what they are doing in Pomona City government, or at least who have City Hall's ear. There is hope.

Speaking of L.A.'s mega-shopping complexes, Pomona already has our version of "The Grove." Our "The Grove" is up on Garey just below Foothill. It consists of an out-of-date shopping center housing small businesses that most outsiders have never heard of: Los Jarrittos Mexican Restaurant No. 3 and Aladdin middle eastern restaurant (no. 1). No, there's no iPOD store, nor is there a Banana Republic (although who needs the store when you've got the City government of Pomona). I don't know about you, but I much prefer Pomona's version of "The Grove" to L.A.'s at Third and Fairfax. But then again, I've never been into walling off streets and neighborhoods.THE END.


John Clifford said...

I'd like to chime in here, not anonymously, but as myself with full disclosure so that there is no question as to where I'm coming from.

As a board member of Pomona Heritage, and current president of the Pomona Fox Corp, I've been following the developments in downtown Pomona for some time.

Pomona's downtown is fabulous with its buildings that date from 1880 to the 1930s. In addition, there are also great mid-century buildings which reflect the development of the city through the 1960s when major architects like Welton Beckett (Pomona civic center, LA's Music Center, Capitol Records, etc.) and artists like Millard Sheets found Pomona to be a viable center for their art.

The downtown resurgence has been mostly the result of the Tessier family, David Armstrong, and a few others who began very modestly by taking some old buildings and finding new uses for them, while maintaining the ambience of a historic downtown pedestrian "village."

The projects that have been mentioned in the articles and TV newscasts (Gerymander Comedy Club, Fox Theater, nightclub, etc.) are almost all by this same group of individuals. However, there is trouble brewing.

At a time when the most successful places for people to go are Old Town Pasadena, Third Street Promenade, Victoria Gardens, and The Grove, (all of which are either OLD downtowns or FAKE old downtowns), there is a proposal to demolish all buildings on the North Side of West Second Street in the 200 and 400 Blocks (the 300 block only has the Vault bank building which is to be saved).

So what will we get to replace some of the oldest commercial buildings in the city? 3-blocks of new 5-story buildings with retail on the ground floor and over 260 condominiums above. These buildings will also take over the parking lots behind the historic buildings but it is only planned that they will create enough parking (on 7 levels, with variances to reduce parking space widths) for their own tenants, without replacing the public parking they will be eliminating. But perhaps this will be a GOOD thing? Early indications are that the designs will be out of scale to our current downtown streetscape and will dominate with something that would look at home in Brea or Irvine.

A joint committee of Pomona Heritage and Historical Society of Pomona Valley is working hard to ensure that development of the historic downtown core be more in line with the kind of quality development in other cities such as Pasadena, Claremont (the Packing House and the new Trader Joes are examples), Monrovia, Santa Monica, etc. Looking at Pasadena, we're concerned that instead of a thriving Old Town, we'll be getting a deadening Paseo Colorado.

I've put a rendering of one of the buildings proposed for 2nd Street on the Pomona Heritage website for anyone interested (more than you'll find on the city's web site).

I look forward to the comments of others. You can also get information on the Pomona Heritage web site about any upcoming meetings with Historic Commission, Planning Commission, or City Council on this issue, as we'll be keeping a very close eye on it.

Goddess of Pomona said...


Thank you for your informative post. I have already commented here on Second Street and I am without a doubt in the "SAve Second Street" camp. The last I heard from neighbors was that the developer was now willing to ncorporate the historic buildings into his plan, but the question still remains why on earth the city would allow two blocks of historic downtown to be demolished at all? Please will you let us know what is the latest and if there are public hearings coming up on this?

I went to the Pomona Heritage site and viewed the proposed rendition. It looks like a huge, long building with slight architectural differences between sections that give it a fake/transparent appearance of different buildings (which it does not really accomplish btw). Because it is one massive structure, I think you are right that it will look generic and out of scale, especially when it replaces the funky, diverse collection of mostly one and two story storefronts that now exist.

EVen more troubling is that according to the rendition, the developers plan to take away the Thomas Street plaza and merely make it street width to the train station. Why remove the one public square in that area, which has been gaining momentum as a gathering place for Pomona (take the recent performance of Zocalo).

In a town filled with deserted gas stations and empty chain-linked lots, was this really the only place that lofts could be built near downtown? Why take blocks that are intact? It boggles the mind.

Again, thank you for raising this issue here.

Eric said...

Pasadena developed Old Town right, and it took time. Why can't Pomona take its time, while property values are relatively low and encourage, nay mandate, development one lot at a time? If you drive down Colorado, Old Town doesn't look that much different from street level than it did 20 years ago. Even some of the bigger developed parts like One Colorado, barely changed the Colorado facade. You hardly know it's there. Good on you for the comment about Paseo... it would be a crime to take an architecturally diverse downtown and turn it into that. But Paseo was a replacement for a very badly planned mall development. What's there now is a vast improvement.

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