Shopping center design under fire

Glendale News Press

LA CRESCENTA — Design plans for a 15,520-square-foot shopping center at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Sunset Avenue were pitched to a skeptical public Thursday.

The center is the last project to be exempt from new design standards for Foothill Boulevard adopted last year by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors after years of discussion.

Los Angeles-based Group Architects presented plans for the project to several dozen people at the Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting to mixed results. Some residents on Thursday said they would like to see more landscaping and elements that would blend in with future development.

Project architects said they hope to work with residents to generate support for the project, which has already received design approval from the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Department.

"We will try to make the neighbors happy," said associate architect Peter Park.

Development along the Foothill corridor has long been a flash point for area residents.

"We're all a little nervous about new development," said resident Jane Campbell, citing a history of questionable projects along the area's main thoroughfare.

The proposed project will feature office space, 10 retail stores and three small restaurants. The 21,406-square-foot lot will also include 82 parking spaces. The design features a rounded tower and a stucco finish in neutral tones.

While residents said they appreciated the developer reaching out to the community, several presented concerns with the project, including the removal of oak trees and the lack of green space.

"We like greenery," said Town Councilwoman Danette Erickson.

Architectural features could not be changed, but project developers said they would try to work with residents on paint colors, signage and other details.

Stuart Byles, a local architect who worked on the boulevard's new design standards, suggested the incorporation of the natural rock found throughout the Crescenta Valley.

"You'll tie it in architecturally to what the valley's all about," he said.

Town Councilman Todd Thornbury, who owns a business near the proposed center, said the vacant lot has been an eyesore for years. Still, he said shifting paint colors and other details could help the proposed center fit in better with the look encouraged by the new design standards.

"It doesn't quite fit in to the Craftsman style," he said.

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