Supersized 10 West Walnut, Largest Mixed-Use Project in Pasadena's History, Struggles to Meet Local Hiring Goals

Project representatives say it’s not for lack of trying, also point out project is still in ‘early hiring and spending phase’

Published : Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | 4:44 AM

Five months after beginning construction, the massive 6.4 acre 10 West Walnut project is not close to achieving either of its agreed-upon 20 percent local hiring or 15 percent local sourcing goals.

It is the largest single retail and residential project in the history of Pasadena.

The project by Lincoln Properties, being constructed at the site of the Parson Corporation headquarters at the northern edge of Old Pasadena, will be a mixed-use village design that will include residential and retail units, as well as offices.  According to the project website, multiple structures will rise across the landscape, featuring 400 residential units and 210,000 square feet of Class-A office space above 17,500 square feet of retail and underground parking.

Its developers committed to a development agreement with the City which promises 20% local hiring, 15% local material sourcing, and 20% local subcontracting goals. Construction began earlier this year and is expected to continue through 2021.

Numerous efforts by Pasadena Now to reach Robert Kane, chief executive for developer Lincoln Properties, for comment on the project’s hiring record were unsuccessful, a fact which drew a rebuke from Councilmember John Kennedy.

“Let me just say,” said Kennedy, “It is a little bit disappointing and somewhat critical that people are reluctant to talk to the press about a project that is so public and endured significant public debate. I would have thought that Lincoln Properties would be proud to tell their success story all along the way of the development. So I’m hoping that that will eventually occur.”

Project manager Tim Walker provided few details to Pasadena Now but was more forthcoming about the project’s local hiring efforts in a report to City Manager Steve Mermell last week.

In that update to the City, Walker said the project’s local hire percentage was approximately 4.4% in June, while cumulatively,  including the utility relocation phase in the Fall, the local hire percentage is 2.68%.

Lincoln Properties through June had paid Pasadena subcontractors $677,924, said Walker.

“This represents 5.3% of subcontracting costs,” he explained. “$125,706 has been paid for locally sourced material and supplies from Pasadena suppliers. This equates to 2.45% of project materials and supplies.”

Walker also said that the project is still in its early phases and that “the majority of hiring and spending has yet to occur.”

He told the City that Lincoln Properties is “continuing to work hard to achieve local hire results, both in terms of hiring local residents, securing the services of local subcontractors, and procuring materials and supplies from local companies for the project.”

Walker noted that the project has “encountered headwinds” for several reasons, including the fact that the early phase of the project has required specialization that the company could not find locally, such as underground utility workers.

He also said that many workers are employed on other construction jobs in the region, and that “the sourcing of certain materials such as rebar is not available locally in the quantities required for a project of this size.”

According to Walker, the company is “in the ongoing process of evolving the marketing and advertising program to continue to reach a broad audience,” and that “the outreach website [Editor: https://tenwestwalnut.com/]  is being modified to further facilitate opportunities and sign-ups.”

The company is also conducting outreach by phone to “every person who has signed-up on our database” to make them aware of local work opportunities, Walker added.

“We are continuing to engage with and double back with local subcontractors and suppliers,” he said.

Project Hiring Manager Catherine Rajan of Construction Services Group told PASADENA NOW “the local hire process for 10 West Walnut involves a variety of outreach activities aimed at attracting new workers, subcontractors and businesses. These activities include online registration for workers, subcontractors and businesses, outreach events, email and direct mail campaigns, promoting opportunities through local media and providing on-site information.

Rajan added that the company holds hiring meetings at the beginning of every month.

“The last meeting had 40 individuals registered and forced us to move the meeting into a larger space to accommodate the large group,” said Rajan. “Right now, we are focused on hiring for construction and administrative positions,” she added.

The site adds, “All residents and businesses located in the City of Pasadena are eligible to participate and encouraged to register. Those registering will then be vetted based on experience, trade or services/supplies offered, creating a database of qualified participants available for assignment to work for a variety of contractors and sub-contractors throughout the construction phase.”

The site also features an online form for local qualified workers to be vetted and added to the company’s worker database.

“Once approved to participate,” says the website, “you will be placed on a list of workers and businesses available for assignment for work as it becomes available.”

Rajan said that residents and local companies interested in participating in the 10 West Walnut project should email the company at admin@theconstructionservicesgroup.com.

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