The smell of malt liquor permeated the air Saturday as Pasadena residents, elected officials, Pasadena’s Interim City Manager and even police gathered at the corner of Summit Avenue and Orange Grove Blvd. to mark an important neighborhood event.
No one was drinking the alcohol — instead, the group celebrated the demolition of a nuisance liquor store by pouring out the bottles’ and cans’ contents onto the ground in a victorious gesture, one last pour to mark the passing.
Pasadena City Councilmember Victor Gordo and Police Chief Phillip Sanchez led residents in kicking off the demolition of what used to be Andy’s liquor store. The corner will now be transformed into a housing project for low and middle income first buyers.
Gordo and other city officials succeeded in closing down the problematic store last year, and on Saturday, they and the neighborhood took action and ceremoniously started the tearing down of the building.
For Gordo, it was a relief knowing the site’s dark history is over.
“For well over 40 years, this corner has been an extreme problem not just for this neighborhood but for the entire city of Pasadena,” Gordo said at the event. “It’s been plagued with loitering, drinking, prostitution, drug dealing, and a large part of the problem was this nuisance liquor store that attracted folks to the business that had an operator who was willing to sell to obviously intoxicated people, that sold single malt liquors and all sorts of high potent alcohol knowing that the consumers would just step outside and commence to drink here in the neighborhood.”
Gordo said the neighborhood has been trying to close down the store for about 20 years.
“Today, we’re here not just to close it down but to tear it down,” the Councilmember said. “I’m very proud of my neighbors who worked tirelessly to see this outcome. I’m very excited about the rebirth of this corner and the contribution that this corner will now make to a very, very special neighborhood.”
Heritage Housing Partners worked with the city to get a loan to buy the property and plans to build a 21-unit housing complex where the liquor store was.
Police Chief Sanchez said during the last five years, the police department was able to document about 358 police responses to the corner of Summit Avenue and Orange Grove Blvd.
With the store gone, he expects less trouble for the department in the area, and police resources can be concentrated elsewhere in the city. felt satisfaction that the nuisance liquor is finally gone from the neighborhood.
“We have been involved for a long time trying to mitigate some of the concerns and issues that were associated with this store – illegal sales of alcohol and tobacco and all those other kinds of things which clearly endanger our youth,” Sanchez said. “We really have a lot to celebrate today. Now there’s one less outlet that would illegally distribute or sell material to our young people here in Pasadena.”
He also warned other liquor distributors in Pasadena to make sure they adhere to the license if they wish to remain in business.
“If you are a person that is in charge of a business for sales of distribution of alcohol, please follow the licensing code on that,” Sanchez said. “We do provide undercover operations to determine compliance and we might be checking on your stores as well.”
Complaints about disturbances outside and around the liquor store peaked in 2005 and prompted residents to voice their complaints City Council meetings.
Residents Terri and Jim McQuarrie even took photos of people drinking in the open or doing other lascivious deeds near the store and supplied these to the City Council to support the complaints.
With the store demolished, Terri McQuarrie said the local residents have won part of the battle to bring the place “back to what it was – just a great place for people to live and work and raise their families.”
“And that’s the future that I would like for us to have,” she said. “And none of it would be possible without all of us working together.”