Published : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 | 5:48 AM
Despite earlier reports that Panda Inn at 3488 E. Foothill Blvd. might be demolished and a new one-story restaurant be built, an update from the Department of Planning and Community Development now says the building will remain with only some “exterior remodeling,” as part of a bigger project in the 4.3 acre compound on that part of E. Foothill Blvd.
The whole project, which calls for the construction of two buildings that will house 258 new residential apartments including 26 very-low-income units, is scheduled to be deliberated on at the regular meeting Tuesday of the Pasadena Design Commission.
In February 2017, the Planning and Community Development Department said in a memorandum for the Design Commission that the proposed development “would require the demolition of an existing 7,400 square foot restaurant,” apparently referring to Panda Inn.
About a week later, representatives of Panda Restaurant Group, the owners of Panda Inn, released a statement saying the company had no intention of demolishing the original restaurant, which has been standing on that spot at the south side of E. Foothill Blvd. since 1973.
“While we are still in the early stages of this development, we are committed to having our family’s original Panda Inn remain on this location to continue serving our valued guests for years to come,” the representatives were reported as saying.
In a project description prepared for the Design Commission meeting Tuesday, the Planning and Community Development Department said the project will involve the construction of a “six-story, 232-unit residential project in two buildings” on the existing parking lot behind the Gateway Metro Tower and Panda Inn buildings, and “major exterior remodeling of both existing buildings.”
The description did not include any word on demolishing Panda Inn.
The description also indicated the new buildings to be built will be a “small northerly building” sited about seven feet and nine inches from the south façade of Panda Inn, and a “southerly building” to be set back 26 feet from the rear of the northerly building.
Parking would be provided in two subterranean levels, two at-grade levels in the proposed northerly building, and in a five-story above-ground structure at the rear of the site.
The existing driveway accessing the surface parking area west of Panda Inn “is proposed to be eliminated,” the project description said, possibly in response to Commissioner comments in February last year to instead “create an active pedestrian-oriented space.”
The Planning Department’s memorandum indicated the same area will be “furnished with seating and shade for waiting patrons” of Panda Inn, in response as well to Commissioner comments to “consider designing a waiting area in the restaurant entrance area, “as there are typically patrons waiting for tables in the current entryway.”
According to the project design, access to Panda Inn parking and residential parking will be through the 26-foot driveway east of Gateway Metro Tower, which will also be extended to become a fire lane along the west and south sides of the south building.
Pasadena’s Panda Inn was redesigned in 1998, on its 25th anniversary, “in a way that reflected the company’s desire to preserve tradition,” Panda Management said then.
The proposed project on the 4.3-acre compound is near a multi-tenant commercial complex to the east, the 210 Freeway and a public storage facility to the south, and is directly east of Pasadena Fire Station 37 which is considered an eligible but undesignated historic resource.
To the west of the compound across Halstead Street is a parking structure, apartment complex and commercial buildings, and across Foothill Blvd. to the north is a multi-tenant commercial complex.
Also close by is the Stuart Company Plant and Office Building, a National Register-listed historic resources, located at 3360 E. Foothill Blvd.