The One Colorado Project, a $70-million face lift for a cornerstone block in the revitalization of Old Pasadena, received approval Tuesday from the Pasadena Board of Directors, enabling developer Doug Stitzel to begin construction Monday.
City Directors received notice that Stitzel had met a key provision for approval: the posting of a $6.9 million bond from Berisford Capital Corp. that will guarantee completion of the first phase of construction. With little fanfare, directors gave Stitzel the go-ahead for the 9-year-old project that has been plagued by delays, financial uncertainty, changes in developers and revised building plans.
San Francisco-based developer Stitzel, who formed a partnership in 1988 with Berisford called Pasadena Preservation Associates, plans to rehabilitate a large block bounded by Fair Oaks Avenue, Colorado Boulevard, DeLacey Avenue and Union Street. The 3.25-acre block contains buildings that date from the 1880s, including Pasadena's former City Hall. Stitzel's plans call for development by August, 1991, of a 280,000-square-foot project.
The first phase, approved Tuesday, will mean construction of a new, three-story building in the middle of the block on Union Street between Fair Oaks and DeLacey Avenue. It will contain an eight-screen movie theater, a restaurant and retail shops.
After the vote, Jim Plotkin, president of the Old Pasadena Business and Professional Assn., handed out flyers to directors that read "Today is the first day of One."
"It's going to bring people in," Plotkin said of the One Colorado Project. "Now the whole dream of Old Pasadena of being a shopping center will begin. It makes Old Pasadena a destination now."
Plotkin, whose family has owned and operated a vacuum cleaner and sewing machine shop on nearby Raymond Avenue for nearly 40 years, said that the dark and boarded-up buildings of the One Colorado area served for years as a psychological block to progress in Old Pasadena. The neglected buildings discouraged retail customers from recognizing that new developments and businesses were operating on surrounding blocks. With construction of One Colorado, the entire atmosphere of Old Pasadena will be changed, Plotkin said.
But Director Rick Cole said he had recently walked onto the project site and observed workers complaining about the pains that must be taken to preserve salvageable historic items, such as windows and doors.
Cole said the workers called such work a "major hassle" and referred to the items as "a bunch of junk they had to pull out."
In addition, Cole expressed concern over the shoring up of adjacent old buildings to prevent damage while the new construction occurs and the upkeep of the older buildings in general.
"Those walls are not in great shape," Cole said of the old buildings, adding that a recent earthquake had caused bricks to tumble from one building because the mortar holding them together was gone.
"It would break your heart to walk into the Salvation Army building," Cole continued, referring to water damage that occurred when rainwater poured through a hole in the roof.
Ray Hall, project manager for Peck/Jones Construction, the Los Angeles company in charge of renovating the buildings, disputed Cole's claims that his workers disregard the historical importance of the materials they are handling.
Attorney Bill Cathey, who represents Stitzel, said the company has shored up the Salvation Army building on DeLacey Avenue. He said Englekirk & Hart Consulting Engineers had reported that damage to walls and buildings in the rest of the block would be minimal as a result of the new construction, so no shoring was needed in other buildings.
Pam White, vice president of Stitzel, told Cole that much of the damage to the buildings had occurred under previous owners over whom the Stitzel company had no control. But Cole said the city would "look very unfavorably on walls that fall down, no matter what the rationale is."