Vons will get a makeover

MONTROSE — Indian Springs Shopping Center, which houses a Vons grocery store, kicked off a transformation effort this week, just as Trader Joe’s begins negotiations for a nearby location.

Plans for the Vons and shopping center renovations have been in the works for years and were not connected to interest in the area from Trader Joe’s, said Brad Howard, real estate manager for Green Howard, which manages the center.

But Montrose residents have long complained of a lack of good grocery alternatives in the area, which prompted a city campaign to court Trader Joe’s in the first place, city officials have said.

Now, as the prospect of a new Trader Joe’s emerges and Vons shares in a major makeover, Montrose may soon have two attractive options where residents previously had none.

“I think it’s beneficial to the town, both of them,” said Jean Maluccio, president of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce. “I think they’re both great ideas.”

The shopping center and Vons, at 2039 Verdugo Blvd., will be refashioned from their current Spanish-style to a “mountain-craftsman look,” Howard said.

A rock-face covering will be added to the walls and some parking spaces will be rearranged to accommodate other changes, he said.

The renovations are not only meant to upgrade the facility, which had not had significant improvements since it was built in 1971, but to draw more shoppers to the center, he said.

Green Howard partnered with Vons to plan an outdoor extension to the front of the store, which would cover a seating area and possible flower shop, Howard and Vons spokesman Carlos Illingworth said.

“It’s going to be a very quality store,” Howard said. “It’s going to be a hell of an improvement from what we have. I’m excited and they’re excited.”

Vons’ interior “lifestyle remodel” will include a fresh paint job, new signs and flooring, energy efficient lighting and new decoration, Illingworth said.

The store will also expand its bakery and produce sections and add a new floral department, he said.

“We want to maintain our presence in Montrose and provide our customers there with a better shopping experience,” he said.

The center, which also houses a CVS Pharmacy, also partnered with the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley to incorporate plaques, photographs and a pedestal-style monument referring to the history of the site, where a spring and swimming pool once sat, said Mike Lawler, president of the society.

Although Trader Joe’s will be more than a mile away from the center, if it opts to move into the area, the two new-look sites will be a huge improvement for residents, Lawler said.

“They are all pluses for Montrose, definitely,” he said.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to authorize negotiations for a ground lease agreement with Trader Joe’s for a site on Honolulu Avenue that was once occupied by a Ford dealership.

Both the revamped center and a potential Trader Joe’s would help businesses by drawing more visitors to attractive storefronts, Maluccio said.

Green Howard also manages an adjacent property that lies within La Cañada Flintridge.

The company hopes to add another building, which will include a 4,500-square-foot restaurant space, along with three retail storefronts, Howard said.

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