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Developer Withdraws Project Planned For 99 Cent Store Site

Applicant wanted to build 227 affordable units with no on-site affordable housing

Published on Monday, May 17, 2021 | 5:51 am
 

Efforts to build a mixed-use project at the site of a 99 Cent Only store on Los Robles Avenue have ended, Pasadena Now has learned.

“On May 6, the applicant for the 99 Cent Store project formally withdrew the project,” said Planning Director David Reyes.

“In meetings with the applicant, the Planning Department made it very clear that we could not support a project of that size and scale without providing on-site affordable units. We also expressed concern over the mass and scale of the project,” Reyes said.

The proposed project would have included 227 units and 4,500 square feet of commercial space. The Los Robles Avenue site is currently occupied by a 99 Cents Only Store and a dental office.

Local residents pushed back against the project, and the City Council expressed concerns over the height of the 67-foot high project during a pre-development plan.

The project would have been two times taller than any other structure in the neighborhood, and three times denser.

Then City Councilman Victor Gordo expressed concerns about  the size of the project. Gordo, who is now mayor, represented District 5 at the time, which is close to the site located in District 3.

“If this project were to go forward under this proposal, it’s going to change the fabric of that entire neighborhood,” Gordo said.

Gordo also pointed out that the building would have dwarfed residential homes in the area.

The developer wanted to build the site as a planned development, which would have allowed modification of zoning codes to account for a “particular mix of uses, appearance, land use compatibility or special sensitivity to neighborhood character,” according to a July 22 staff report.

The city has approved less than 30 planned developments, including projects at JPL and Huntington Hospital.

At a meeting of the Planning Commission in May, commissioners complained about planned developments, with one commissioner saying he viewed them as “invading that territory.”

Representatives from Summerhill Apartment Community Investments, LLC, which proposed the four- to five-story-tall, 256,000 square-foot building at 452 N. Los Robles Ave. did not respond to a request for comment from Pasadena Now.

The site is zoned CL (Limited Commercial), and is currently developed with a 99 Cent Store retail building, a dental office, and a surface parking lot, all of which would have been demolished to accommodate construction of the project.

The project would have included 365 parking spaces, including two underground parking levels.

Local residents opposed the development.

“Pasadena desperately needs decent affordable housing for its working-class citizens,” wrote local architect Steve Lamb in a letter to Pasadena Now. “The last thing the city needs or has needed for a decade and a half, is more luxury housing catering to people moving in.”

After a Zoom meeting with the developers on Feb. 4, local resident Barbara Lamprecht called the project wholly inappropriate for the site.

“Off-site affordable housing is NOT wanted,” Lamprecht said. “It should be on-site, part of the project; moreover, a significant portion of the project should be devoted to housing that is affordable. It should be part of us, part of the community.”

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