Village Theme Emerges From Varied Designs for ‘Old Brea’

Times Staff Writer

A picture is beginning to emerge of how “Old Brea"--the city’s downtown--might look under a recently approved renovation plan.

The architect hired by the city said there are different designs in the works, but they all seem to have a similar concept: a walk-in village retail center with pedestrian walkways, plazas and public parking.

“What we’re trying to do is create an atmosphere and an image that is readily identified as being the Brea downtown village,” said David Price of Newport Beach-based Rauh & Price Architects.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved a plan geared to upgrade the deteriorating downtown commercial district and its surrounding neighborhoods. The council is scheduled to hear a progress report during its afternoon session Tuesday, City Manager Edward G. Wohlenberg said.


Much of the Towne Plaza project involves a partnership between the private and public sectors, Brea spokeswoman Bonnie Dwyer said. The city does not plan to use its power of eminent domain--or condemnation--to take over properties, officials have said. The program is a voluntary one for shop owners and landlords, city officials said.

20-Acre Development

The central feature of the Towne Plaza is a new 20-acre commercial development in the area bounded by Imperial Highway to the south, Birch Street to the north, a flood control channel to the west and Brea Boulevard to the east.

Surrounding the proposed plaza are four residential neighborhoods, whose conditions range from the most deteriorated in the city to fair and in need of some rehabilitation.


Downtown merchants have been meeting with city officials for more than a year. The city has often served as a conduit between developers and property owners, according to Brea Development Services Director William Kelly.

The Towne Plaza plan is another step in improving the “Old Brea” section of the city by incorporating it into the city’s redevelopment area. By including the downtown sector, the area became eligible for money from tax increment revenues generated from increased assessed valuations from new development or property improvements. Thus, the city can issue tax-free bonds to finance overhauling the area’s deteriorated sewer and water systems and repave streets. For the overall redevelopment area, the city issued about $50 million in bonds, project manager Steve Copenhaver has said.