Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Yesteryears Lives On

100_1988 (Large)
Originally uploaded by Brian's Pictures 2007
In case you missed it, Reader Brian shared photos of a minature version of the late Yesteryear's building on Second Street. The Yesteryear's building has been felled by the wrecking ball in the name of the Great Wall of Pomona, other wise known as the Downtown Pomona Revitalization. Hopefully Brian will log back in and give us the back story on this mini structure.

Btw, given how many condo projects are being halted in neighboring towns, anyone know if Pomona has more than verbal assurance that Watts Genton will build in a timely manner no matter what happens with the economy?



linknpark said...

Whats funny is that I was thinking the same exact thing in regard to the Second Street project. Everyone is pulling out of everything right now because of the economic slowdown on Wall Street. Hopefully Pomona isnt left with vacant lots downtown. The good news is at least they are still clearing the rubble.

John Clifford said...

I've heard that Watt-Genton is no more with the split up of the organization. My understanding is that Jonathon Genton (the actual housing part of the partnership) is no longer involved with the project and that it is now a Watt project only.

Since the funding for the 400 block part of the project is funded using Calpers (California Public Employees' Retirement System), that portion of the project is certainly moving forward and is not so much affected by the market downturn. However, my understanding of the financing of this project is that the second phase (the 200 block) was going to use conventional financing and is thus currently "on hold."

Of course, when we in the community suggested that the demolition of the 200 block wait until construction was about to occur, we were shot down because "Watt-Genton is committed to this project" and, of course, the police are very interested in getting rid of the buildings (read that as, we won't spend any money on securing it and protecting it, so it will become a haven for crime).

I hope I don't have to, but I have a feeling that I'll soon be able to say "We told you so" when we have to look at a vacant lot for the next xx years (Mission Promenade was vacant for something like 20 years after they tore down the original Carnegie Library).

me said...

John, my jaw is absolutely on the floor. That's unbelieveable what is happening. Especially since this could have all been forecast. I am wondering what the folks who've already invested down on 2nd Street (mostly the small business owners who believed in the revitalization) have to say. I've been trying to do some outreach to have them to be more of a voice on the board. I'm trying not to be too melodramatic, but this is really an outrage.

G of P

John Clifford said...


Again, we foresaw this, but were assured that we were being paranoid and that it was too costly to split the demolition into two phases.

However, all of that said, I want to make sure that it is understood that this is MY read on the situation. I'm sure that those in the city will try and spin it that it's only a temporary situation, and that Watt will continue to give assurances that the project will move forward as soon as things level out. My feeling is that as soon as things level out that Watt will sell off the 200 block, with all of its permits and plans and let some other entity that is more of a "housing" developer take it over. Of course, we don't know what we'll end up getting. Will it have to be "re-engineered" as Mission Promenade was in order to lower costs?

Again, it's mostly a matter now of waiting to see what actually occurs, but at the moment it's not looking good. Of course, I'm sure that the preservation community will be blamed for causing delays which ended up harming the project (although we probably only delayed things a week or two if truth be known and the city has caused much more delay than we ever did --but that's another story).

But as Super Chicken used to say, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."

linknpark said...

On a completely different subject, John, could you do the neighborhood a great service and visit the Pomona, CA page on Wikipedia and write a brief entry for Lincoln Park and the other significant historic districts in Pomona. There seem to be links off of the Pomona page to the historic districts, but they dont go anywhere because there are no entries for the districts on Wikipedia. In my opinion you are the only one qualified to do this, and its one of those PR things we can handle on our end regarding the city.

me said...

someone emailed me privately that the 200 block was always to be built in the second phase of the project - which was not to be started until 2009 anyway. Perhaps this is not as bad as it sounds, but I can't deny the feeling in the pit of my stomach either.

G of P

Ed said...

Wow, I stop by to read something cheery or funny and this is what I get.

I'm a glass half-full person, so I'm predicting the project will be completed(a little slower, but not much). Who wouldn't want to live in Pomona? Think of how much gas David Allen could save!

John Clifford said...

Yes, indeed. The 200 block was always supposed to start in 2009 as the 2nd Phase.

However, originally, the financing was pretty much in place. Now all of that has changed. And considering the changes within the owners' organization, I'm afraid that I have fears about that second phase every happening.

Remember, Mission Promenade was supposed to have been two phases. The first phase was built, the developer went into receivership. The project was sold to the city of Bell, and now the project has been bought by the city of Pomona and WE have to be responsible for building Phase II.

So, just because Phase 2 was always to have been done in 2009 doesn't give me much solace. This is exactly why we didn't want demo until the second phase was ready to be built. But, of course, others knew much better and we were being negative.

Linknpark: Good idea. I'll take a look at it and see what can be done. Perhaps I'll see if Pomona Heritage and/or Historical Society wants to do it as a group and be the "authority" for our districts. THANKS!

Reyna Hernandez said...

Hello All,

For those of you who don't know me I am the Community and Governmental Relations Coordinator for Watt Companies, the developer on the Second Street Mixed-Use project. I have read your inquiries and if you should have any questions please feel free to contact me directly. I am more than happy to answer your questions regarding Watt Genton and how the project is still moving forward. Here is my email address for any questions or concerns

John Clifford said...


Nice to see you here. So how far off am I in my assessment of the current situation. Did I mischaracterize anything? Does Watt have financing in place for phase 2. I'd love to be shown to be paranoid and off-base.

While I think that it was nice of you to offer to answer people's individual emails, I'm sure that the blogging community would be interested in your take on things.


me said...

Thank you for stopping by, Reyna. I have emailed Reyna a list of about 5 questions about the Watt project and will share the responses.

G of P

Reyna Hernandez said...

Hello Goddess of Pomona,

Thank you very much for your great questions and of course you can take the information that I will provide for you and post it on your blog.

I would first like to provide you with a little background information on our company. Watt Companies is one of the most experiences developers in California with more than 45 years of experience and has a proven track record in developing large scale residential housing projects, high-rise office buildings, hotels, industrial parks, apartments and shopping centers. Watt Genton Associates is a subsidiary of Watt Companies. Watt Genton has closed its operation but having said that it doesn’t mean that the 2nd Second Street project was not going to move forward. Watt Communities which is another entity of Watt Companies has taken over the project and continues to move forward as scheduled. Watt Communities is highly regarded in the home building industry as a premier quality builder.

The Second Street project also known as “The Artisan” is still continuing to move forward as planned and the only difference is that Watt Communities is now the executor of the development. Currently we are about 60% done with demolition and the remaining buildings should be down within the next month. Even though demolition will be completed soon we are still waiting to pull our building permits issued by the city. We are expecting that we will be receiving our permits before the end of the year and then the actual building will begin in 2009.

I have also been working with the local college student and I have provided her with information regarding The Artisan project. She was curious to know what kind of businesses we were trying to attract and I had suggested to her to start a survey and distribute it to people around the area. That will also help us in the process of figuring out what amenities are sought after downtown. A nice out door restaurant, retail shops, coffee shop, and newsstand are all possibilities that could be preferably favored because of the transit oriented village we are creating.

For those in Pomona who care and want to see viable and useful businesses on Second Street the best thing you can do is to write us and let us know you thoughts and opinions regarding any specific amenities you would like to see in your downtown. The more feedback and open communication we have together we can create a viable downtown.

Thank you for this opportunity to share with you where we are at with the project and please do not hesitate to contact with me directly as your comments and concerns will be taken in consideration when planning for the future of Pomona!

calwatch said...

I don't know if it will pencil out though. The last condo sold at Mission Promenade went for $230k. It is likely that the price per square foot, even by that time, will not go over $250 per square foot. The other thing is that Second Street is right next door to the train tracks, which still give off a lot of track noise and rumble, even if the horns have been mostly silenced. And, if they ever build the alleged maglev from Ontario Airport to Union Station (don't hold your breath), expect to be under the shadow of an elevated structure, and the high pitched
noise of the maglev whining every few minutes, not to mention the construction impacts if that project ever gets off the ground (highly unlikely, but still marginally possible).

richard e nunez said...

just like our goverment leaders,this 2nd st. thing is going to be a eye sore for the comming months.just like the pomona mall if you build it they will come.yea right

me said...

Reyna, thank you again for agreeing to take answers from the blogosphere.

Calwatch, as usual you point out things that I had no idea about.

and Richard, our new resident photographer -- Thank you for joining in the discussion. I'd love to see more second streeters around here, because we really are in this together, and I think we are all as equally worried and confused.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've still got a few questions to ask Reyna. I say we take advantage of her willingness to talk. I will be posting an "Ask Reyna" thread at the start of the week.

G of P

richard e nunez said...

they say there going to build low cost apartments,can you say tent city.

John Clifford said...

Oooh Richard,

Biting! I don't recall that there were any low-cost or "affordable" units in the plans. My recollection is that they were all "market value" condos. I'm pretty sure on this since they were not going for any city subsidies on this project. It was all to be financed by the developer (although we did learn that their funding was through Calpers--public employee retirement funds--who have been investing in "transportation corridor" projects, not low-cost housing).

Reyna Hernandez said...

Hello Richard, I hope this clears up some of the confusion. The units are all going to be condos. As far as the price point again it will depend greatly on market conditions but we estimated the prices to be in the high 200's to mid 300's. Welcome to the community!

richard e nunez said...

thank you for keeping me on a straight road here,cal pers mmm and am retired from cal pers have to look into this,thanks again people

me said...

Folks, this thread has been moved up to the more recent "Ask Reyna" post. Please see there for additional questions to Reyna.

G of P