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Old Juice Plant in Orange Is Being Squeezed Out

Times Staff Writer

Progress has beaten preservation in Tustin, where the City Council voted this week to raze the historic Utt Juice buildings on Main Street to make way for a new development.

In the early 1900s, the buildings had been home to Ed Utt’s bustling juice business, which at one time was the largest employer in the city. But the business folded in 1973, and the buildings have been vacant since.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. May 24, 2004 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday May 24, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Development -- A headline in some editions of Saturday’s California section incorrectly said an old juice plant in Orange would be razed and replaced with apartments, shops and a restaurant. The plant to be razed is in Tustin.

On a unanimous vote Monday night, the council gave Prospect Village LLC, a developer based in Huntington Beach, the go-ahead to build shops, apartments and a restaurant with outdoor dining.

But the council urged the developer to use its “reasonable and best efforts” to incorporate the architecturally distinctive elements of the building in the new project, although it stopped short of obligating the company to save anything.

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“We have to be extremely sensitive to the community and show respect to that building,” said John Tillotson Jr., owner of Prospect Village.

Tillotson said his company would try to use at least the buildings’ turn-of-the-century metal cornice and leaded-glass adornment in the new structure. He also said the development would have a plaque commemorating the buildings, and photos and drawings of the old buildings and products.

The City Council’s vote ended a debate between Old Town homeowners dedicated to preservation and local merchants who said they needed new development to attract more customers.

“It’s frustrating,” said Jeff Thompson, an Old Town resident, about the council’s decision.

“You’re not really getting preservation.”

Thompson was among the residents who led the fight to preserve the buildings. He was not surprised by the council’s decision, and considers it shortsighted.

“I really feel that we’ve lost something that is so special,” Thompson said. “It’s only after it’s gone that we’ll realize the true value.”

But Jim Bartolomucci, whose wife, Annette, owns Mrs. B’s consignment store on Main Street, said the new development will help business and preserve some history.

“I think everybody was somewhat of a winner,” Bartolomucci said.

“Nobody gets all they want all the time, but I think there’s a good chance of hanging on to some of the old flavor of the old building.”


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