Pomona Development: Accent on the Positive

Times Staff Writer

It’s difficult to think positively when a community ended a year with the construction of only one new single-family house, as this city of 112,000 did in 1976.

Thinking positively means never getting into a situation like the one that prevailed from about 1974 to 1976, when new housing construction was virtually unknown in Pomona, according to Sanford A. Sorensen, the city’s director of community development.

Single-family housing construction reached a peak of 648 units in 1963, a total that wasn’t reached again until the record 819 units of 1979, he added. Last year saw the construction of 235 single-family houses, Sorensen said.

The city’s slogan these days is “Pomona Positively!” and thanks to its creative use of redevelopment and bond financing programs, Pomona is developing housing in all price ranges, from affordable downtown apartments for senior citizens to move-up houses like those in Phillips Ranch.


Major Turning Point

The development of Phillips Ranch in the southern part of the city in the late 1970s was a major turning point for the city--and redevelopment gets the credit, along with yeoman work by Sorensen since 1967 on the 2,200-acre Phillips Ranch, according to city administrator Ora E. Lampman.

“We have 10 redevelopment areas in the city, including the Phillips Ranch master-planned community,” he said.

Now that Phillips Ranch is nearing completion, the city is concentrating on Pomona Towne Center, a $60-million, 18-city-block redevelopment area bounded by 1st Street on the north, Mission Boulevard on the south, Towne Avenue on the east and Gibbs Street on the west. The area is in the heart of Pomona’s traditional downtown, with a Buffum’s department store right in the middle.


The initial phase of development, bounded by Eleanor Street on the west, will be consist of moderately priced apartments by Bauer Redevelopment Group of Newport Beach. Also included will be 512 mini-storage units and a small commercial site.

Senior Citizens and Adults

The complex will consist of two distinct projects: The Park, with one- and two-bedroom units for seniors, and The Plaza, with one- and two-bedroom units for adults who want the convenience of in-town living just a few minutes northeast of the city’s civic center at Mission Boulevard and Garey Avenue.

There will be 288 units in the first two phases of The Park and 280 in the first two phases of The Plaza, according to Julie Hutchinson, director of marketing for Bauer.


If Bauer is successful in acquiring all the parcels in the redevelopment area, as many as 1,340 apartments could be constructed, she said.

“The rents of about $385 to $595 a month for the adult units and just under that for the senior apartments wouldn’t be possible without the $17.85-million bond financing program and the city’s cooperation on housing density and the size of the units,” said Warren L. Bauer, president of Bauer Development Co. and partner in the Bauer Redevelopment Group.

Experience Paid Off

The bond program was completed in 35 days, a remarkably short time for such a major effort, he said. It typically takes five or six months to put together a bond financing program, he said, but experience gained in putting together two such programs in Phillips Ranch paid off for the downtown project.


Mercury Savings & Loan is the lender for the project, and the city, in return for assembling the land, putting in utilities and other infrastructure elements and making improvement to major streets, will receive 30% of the net profits from the rents from the new apartments, Hutchinson said.

“In today’s business climate, it’s virtually impossible to build in a mature city like Pomona without redevelopment and a partnership between the city and the developer,” Bauer said. “Without a cooperative city government like Pomona’s and bond financing, we couldn’t have attempted a large-scale rental project in the heart of the city.”

Mayor G. Stanton Selby believes that Pomona has the “right mix” of ethnic groups--Anglo, black, Hispanic and Asian--for a major governmental, industrial and commercial outpost of sprawling Los Angeles County about 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Nearby Colleges


It certainly doesn’t hurt the city to have Ontario International Airport less than 10 minutes to the east and to be adjacent to Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

With its civic center and municipal and superior courts serving eastern Los Angeles County, Pomona has a status similar to Van Nuys and Santa Monica in civil and criminal court activity for the county.

Pomona is a center of education with 18,000-student Cal Poly Pomona inside the city and the six Claremont Colleges in adjacent Claremont. Other institutions of higher education in or near Pomona include the University of La Verne, Mt. San Antonio Community College and the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.

Millions of people know Pomona for the Los Angeles County Fair, the largest county fair in North America, held since 1922 at the Pomona Fairgrounds.


Other Downtown Projects

Adjacent to the fairgrounds is Frank G. Bonelli Regional County Park, a popular recreation area whose Puddingstone Reservoir gives residents a chance to swim, boat and fish without driving 50 miles to the ocean.

The Bauer project is not the only downtown redevelopment effort in Pomona: Not far away, at Mission Boulevard and Garey Avenue across Mission from the civic center, land has been cleared for the $66-million Inland Pacific World Trade Center.

Major components of the center to be built on the 3.6-acre redevelopment site will include a 12-story, 220,000-square-foot corporate office building; an eight-story, 227-room hotel, and a 200,000-square-foot Galleria/Trade Mart that will contain about 80,000 square feet of showroom facilities for international businesses and more than 50 stores and restaurants.


The developer is Los Angeles-based Urbanetics, and construction is expected to begin as soon as financing has been arranged, according to Ron Smothers, Pomona’s economic development director.

Downtown Revitalization

Elsewhere in downtown Pomona, the city has taken many direct steps to improve and upgrade its traditional shopping district, including improved parking, lighting, streetscape and infrastructure improvements, according to Charles Pilcher of R & R Clayton Consultants, Irvine-based economic consultants for the city.

Revitalization program elements were adopted by the city in the second half of 1984, with $600,000 in seed funds committed to the loan program. This seed money made $2 million available for loans in what the city called the Pomona Landmark Quarter Commercial Revitalization Program.


Final agreements were completed with Pomona First Federal Savings & Loan Assn. in March, 1985, and the first commercial rehabilitation loan was approved last August.

During the first 13 months of the program, 30 applications were received for architectural assistance; 23 architectural designs and 13 feasibility analyses were completed; seven applications were received for property improvement rebates; five rebates were approved for property improvements; six applications were received for commercial rehabilitation loans and four commercial rehab loans were approved, Pilcher said.

According to Rose Ash of the city, the loan programs offer below-market interest rates and other financing terms which compare favorably with even the best conventional commercial loans.

The city also offers the services of staff and consultants in helping property owners determine which commercial property improvement programs are most appropriate, she added.


Regional Shopping Center

In the western part of Pomona, at the confluence of the San Bernardino (10), Foothill (210) and Orange (57) freeways and the Corona (71) Expressway, construction is under way on the University Corporate Center, a 50-acre business park that will have about 1.4 million square feet of space, according to the developers, a partnership of the Macklin Cos. of Newport Beach and Phil Four Twelve, an Irvine-based Howard Ahmanson Jr. company.

Recognizing the realities of shopping center locations, Pomona has established a 75-acre regional shopping center site at the confluence of the Pomona Freeway and the Corona (71) Expressway. The center will serve adjacent Phillips Ranch, Diamond Bar, the Chino Hills area, southern Pomona and Ontario, according to Smothers.

On the eastern side of the Corona Expressway, the city has developed an auto center. So far, according to Smothers, Valley Chevrolet and Pomona Valley Nissan have bought land in the center.