Council Considers $2.5 Million Parking Lot Addition to Playhouse District Pocket Park

Published : Sunday, March 10, 2019 | 4:58 AM

The approximate perimeter of the portion of the parking lot which could be acquired for the Playhouse District pocket park is shown above in yellow, the area which would remain as parking is indicated in orange. The bank property which was acquired in 2018 is marked in green.

[Updated] On Monday the City Council will consider the appropriation of $2.5 million for a portion of a parking lot as part of the pocket park project for the Playhouse District.

Last year, Pasadena spent $3.15 million to buy property on which Banner Bank maintained a branch. This latest proposed acquisition, adjacent to the first purchase, would create 0.29 more acres of space.

The parcel is currently a parking lot at the northeast corner of Union Street and El Molino Avenue and the City would be buying up to half the total square footage, yielding a combined total of up to 28,955 square feet (0.665 acre) for park space.

The choice was made following a community meeting where “attendees preferred the site because of its visibility, accessibility to residents, and its adjacency to the former bank site, thus allowing the sites to be combined for development of a larger park,” according to agenda documents.

In an email to its membership Friday, Playhouse District officials wrote that the project is one of the key ideas in the District’s recent vision framework process and the officials “are excited that the City will be moving forward on a community process to design the site.”

The Playhouse District asked to retain a minimum of 48 parking spaces, roughly half, noting that the remaining parking would be improved by integrating it with the design of the new park, and more conducive to the programming of events.

According to a City report, the Union Street / El Molino parking lot currently accommodates 101 parking spaces, which are approximately 50 percent occupied at any one time.

A February 2019 parking license agreement moved 91 Laemmle Theater parking entitlement spaces from lot to a parking structure at 40 South Oakland Avenue.

Oddly enough, the city owns the parking lot for which the money would be appropriated. City of Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian explained that the City parks fund is buying the land from the City parking fund.

The measure also directs the city attorney to prepare an ordinance amending the municipal code to include the proposed park in the list of dedicated parklands.

The next steps in the process of bringing parkland to an area bereft of open space entail further community engagement regarding design for the park and proposed parking solutions. The City has compiled a list of landscape architects from whom design proposals have already been solicited.

According to the document, project planning, environmental review and entitlements, as well as design development will be completed in fiscal year 2020. Preparation of construction plans and specs, bidding and construction will follow in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

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