Duarte OKs Proposal for Mt. Olive-Huntington Site

Times Staff Writer

In its dual role as the Redevelopment Agency, the City Council on Tuesday approved, 3 to 1, a master plan for a proposed retail-restaurant development on Duarte's main street.

The development on the five-acre site at the southeast corner of Mt. Olive and Huntington drives is intended to reverse the economic decline of an area marked by deteriorating buildings and vacant lots, the plan states.

The city Planning Commission in February recommended council approval of the plan, which requires that the two-phase project conform to the "Early California" design theme for Huntington Drive set by the city's General Plan.

Councilwoman Ginny Joyce abstained in the vote because of a possible conflict of interest.

Residents Support Project

Councilman John Van Doren said he rejects the development because he is not convinced that it is the best plan for the site.

Resident Richard Reed told the council that he and his neighbors support the project near their homes, and described the proposed complex as "a good thing in our part of town."

LMC Investments Inc., a Woodland Hills-based developing firm, has been negotiating the project with the Redevelopment Agency since 1987.

The plan approved Tuesday follows LMC's proposal to build the shopping center in two phases.

Phase I includes two restaurants and a 17,200-square-foot retail complex on the west side of the lot. That half of the development should be completed six months after ground breaking, city planner Steve Sizemore said.

The area is under a building moratorium, but the freeze will expire June 23, he said.

Phase I of the complex is expected to generate $73,000 annually in sales taxes to the city, Sizemore said.

If the first phase is successful in achieving a high occupancy rate, the Redevelopment Agency will begin land acquisition for Phase II, which would include three restaurants and a 12,000-square-foot shopping complex.

More Than $1 Million Spent

So far the Redevelopment Agency has spent more than $1 million for land acquisition, demolition and relocating costs for displaced businesses in the Phase I area, City Manager Jesse Duff said.

On May 28, the agency will seize by eminent domain two businesses that remain on the site: an auto repair shop, Precision Autobody, and a bar, Driftwood Inn, according to Community Development Director Ed Cox.

LMC will purchase the land for Phase I from the Redevelopment Agency for about $753,000, according to an agreement between the developer and the redevelopment agency adopted last year, Sizemore said.

Because Duarte wants to create a quality "restaurant row," the plan prohibits fast-food restaurants at the center. Convenience markets are also forbidden, along with adult bookstores, massage parlors, arcades, dance halls, bars and businesses requiring outdoor storage, he added.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World