Proposed Mixed-Use Project for South Lake Avenue Could Lead the Way to Street’s Transformation

Published : Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | 5:30 AM

The buildings currently on the affected property of a proposed South Lake Avenue mixed-use projected include an office of real estate brokers Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices at 540 South Lake Ave. and upscale gift shop Salutations Home, an upscale gift shop at 900 Granite Drive.

A newly proposed five-story mixed-use development near the southern end of South Lake Avenue could point the way to a new future for the tony shopping street.

The project would put 62 residential units above 9,885 square feet of retail at the site, a clumsily-shaped patch which manages to bind together frontages on South Lake Avenue, Granite Drive and California Boulevard.

What makes the development unusual is that South Lake Avenue has few multi-story buildings containing residential units.

The street is mostly an eclectic collection of decades-old one- and two-story retail, restaurant and office buildings.

But so-called mixed-use buildings, which harken to earlier days in American architecture when people lived over retail establishments, could transform the airspace above the squat South Lake buildings into much more valuable properties and create more housing.

The entire district may be headed towards a transformation, says at least one real estate attorney.

Richard McDonald of Carlson & Nicholas said that the residential component “activates” the street by having more people actually living along it.

McDonald and Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Paul Little point to a similar project on the southwest corner of South Lake Ave. and East Green Street, called the Prado on Lake Lofts.

“That was a very successful project that allowed people to live there, walk the street, enhance the area by being owners there,” McDonald said.

In this new case, located farther south at 540 South Lake Ave., you might expect the uses on the ground floor would be somewhat similar to what’s on the ground floor now, and then you have residents upstairs that could add to the vitality at that end of Lake Avenue, Little said.

“I think that it’s reflective of the fact that people do want to live here,” Little said. “The developer has an interesting idea on how to do that.”

The project is in its early stages, said City Case Planner Amanda Landry, at the first of the three required phases of design review.

If all goes well, construction could start in about 18 months, according to David Reyes, Pasadena’s Planning and Community Development Director.

The project was proposed by Shanghai, China-based international real estate developer Dongdu International.

The buildings currently on the affected properties include an office of real estate brokers Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Salutations Home, an upscale gift shop at 900 Granite Drive.

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