CITY HALL — The Trader Joe's Company moved closer to breaking ground on a location in the Montrose Shopping Park this week after a Design Review Board gave its stamp of approval to the store's proposed design.
Design Review Board No. 1 approved design plans based on the architectural style popular in the shopping park for the grocer's proposed 14,670-square-foot, single-story store at the corner of Honolulu and Orangedale avenues.
"Boy, it's just going to re-energize that whole area," said Chairman Ivan Insua.
The proposed design features brick detailing, market awnings and a metal projecting sign — all reminiscent of features seen on 20th century commercial buildings, such as the former Valley and Verdugo Pharmacy buildings in Montrose.
The City Council last month approved a ground lease with the grocery retailer for city-owned property at 2448-2468 Honolulu Ave., the former site of a Ford dealership that currently serves as a city parking lot across from the Montrose branch library and fire station.
City officials first began talks with Trader Joe's about two years ago after community members repeatedly expressed interest in bringing the grocery store to Montrose. Proponents say the store will serve as a "retail anchor" for the west end of the shopping park, which has historically struggled to draw foot traffic.
"I think it's just exciting that we are delivering something that the community wanted to see up there," said Emil Tatevosian, deputy director of the Economic Redevelopment & Housing Department.
Still, some Design Review Board members said they were concerned that the proposed 60-space parking lot, which meets city code, would be unable to meet the high demand.
"It looks like we have enough parking, but then you go to Trader Joe's and there is no parking," said board member Judy Palmer.
With design approval secured, officials can now take the project to the Building & Safety Division to get construction documents signed off on.
"We are working to get the plan check and permits out of the way as quickly as possible," Tatevosian said.
Next week, city planners are expected to issue a decision on a proposed conditional-use permit to allow alcohol sales at the store.
Later this month, the city will hear a refined proposal from store officials for a variance for proposed signs that would be larger than city code allows.
A construction period of nine to 12 months is scheduled to start sometime this fall.
City officials have said the store would be the first Trader Joe's in Southern California to try to receive certification of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, a strict national rating system administered by the U.S. Building Council.