A year after fire gutted five businesses and a small apartment building in Sierra Madre’s historic downtown, city officials Tuesday approved giving Community Redevelopment Agency assistance to property owners planning a half-million-dollar rebuilding project.
The City Council, doubling as the Community Redevelopment Agency, agreed to provide aid to the property owners, although the precise level of assistance has to be determined. The city obligation would include $80,000 in assistance with loan interest payments and $40,000 for purchasing certain land rights, a city report said.
The city has already spent $20,000 on design drawings, City Manager James E. McRea said. But property owners Fred Crocket, Helen Elliott and Berge Yeghiaian have agreed to reimburse the city if the project is approved.
The property owners will obtain their own financing to build three two-story buildings on their land at 14-22 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
The new buildings will be almost twice the size of the single-story shops that stood there and will require more parking than the site can provide, McRea said.
The proposed projects, which will include restaurants and a reincarnation of Elliott’s Spinning Wheel gift shop, are 10 spaces short of the 24 parking spaces required for a development that size, McRea said.
In exchange for a break on the parking requirement, Crocket, Elliott and Yeghiaian said they are willing to give the city a 20-foot easement at the rear of their property for sewer lines, utilities and public access.
To take advantage of the easement, the city would have to purchase certain rights to some neighboring land, officials said.
The property owners will also offer five parking spaces somewhere off the site, McRea said.
The Dec. 6, 1989, fire marred the area’s Christmas season last year, and Crocket, Elliott and Yeghiaian said they had hoped to be in business in time for the holidays this year.
McRea said the property owners qualify for CRA assistance because their property is in an area that has been declared a redevelopment zone since 1972.
“Hopefully, this will be the start of the rehabilitation of the downtown area,” McRea said.
The project will come back to the Redevelopment Agency for a resolution of the parking problem, determination of the agency’s exact level of participation, and final approval of the new buildings’ design.