New plans would reuse existing buildings, modify traffic signals, and place an entrance on Walnut Street
Published : Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | 4:45 AM
In a 180-degree shift from previous community meetings on the topic, East Pasadena residents seemed amenable Tuesday to new design plans by Home Depot to open a store on the 353,000-square-foot former Avon distribution center site at 2940 E. Foothill Boulevard.
“I think this was really positive. They asked some really good questions,” said District 4 Councilmember Gene Masuda, whose office coordinated the community meeting.
“It’s very inviting having these kinds of questions, so we can get some good information out there, so people understand what’s really going on,” he added.
Masuda pointed to several key factors which may have changed local residents’ opinions about the project — the closing of the nearby OSH hardware store, for one, and the proposed placement of the entrance to the future Home Depot store on Walnut Street as opposed to Foothill Boulevard.
At the meeting, Pasadena Director of Planning and Community Development David Reyes detailed the recent history of the site, which was purchased in 2016.
The first plans, as originally envisioned in November of 2016, saw the project as an expansive, multi-level development that would include a Home Depot store and a Costco as well as office buildings and residential areas, said Reyes.
“They wanted to knock everything down and build, but the City said ‘no’,” said Reyes.
“Home Depot listened slowly,” Reyes told the meeting, “and it was a long process of evolution.”
But, said Reyes, the original design of the Avon building was not configured for a Home Depot store, meaning more and more re-designs from Home Depot.
Responding to a series of community meetings, and after at least two more design attempts, Home Depot said in 2018 it would eliminate the residential component of the project, as well as any multi-use. The new site would also reconfigure parking areas.
“This is a low-scale development,” said Reyes of the latest design.
Home Depot will use the existing Avon Buildings for the new design, and plans add three significant nearby traffic improvements: New medians and restriping on Foothill Boulevard as well as a modification of the traffic signaling, restriping, a dedicated entrance on Walnut, and a reconstruction of the eastern portion of Sierra Grande Street along the southern edge of the development.
Sue Mossman, executive director of Pasadena Heritage, told the meeting she was “impressed at how down-scale it is.”
“We have a tradition in Pasadena of reusing and repurposing historic and existing buildings, and this follows that,” she said. “I think real progress has been made.”
Taking questions from the 200-plus audience members, Reyes noted that the Home Depot site would have more parking than the City requested and that the number of trucks traveling in and out of the store would be less than the previous Avon site.
Reyes also said that the City would discuss working with Home Depot on the issue of day laborers, and “would let the community know” of that progress.
Reyes also said that the development is about two or three months away from a full plan check approval, but that construction could begin as early as November.