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La Cañada city officials dedicate new City Hall, a project years in the making

La Cañada Flintridge elected officials and city employees past and present convened with resident well-wishers in the city’s Town Center Tuesday to dedicate a new city hall building and celebrate a civic accomplishment years in the making.

“As your mayor, it is my sincere honor and extreme pleasure … to welcome you to our new City Hall,” Mayor Terry Walker told attendees in her welcoming remarks. “We’re really excited about this day — we feel it’s a really monumental occasion for our city.”

Distinguished guests from legislators’ offices and former La Cañada Flintridge mayors packed Olberz Park alongside city staffers, business leaders and residents who turned out to see the new digs at 1 Civic Center Drive and take free public tours, complete with commemorative goody bags.

The ceremony included thank-yous to those who helped bringing the $18.3-million vision to life, from past city leaders who zoned the La Cañada’s Town Center for such a possibility, to architects who designed the site in strict accordance with a set of guidelines, to construction teams who worked on tight timelines to accommodate a mid-February move.

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City Councilman Mike Davitt shared the project’s history, which began a few years back as civic leaders contemplated the problem of a too-crowded City Hall at 1327 Foothill Blvd. just as then-occupant Sport Chalet began to shutter stores and vacate the 27,881-square-foot corporate headquarters building.

“The conditions at the past city hall were not good,” said Davitt, describing multimillion-dollar plans to refurbish the old site. “Slowly the wisdom of council and staff turned toward the direction that we should try to acquire [this] site.

“This acquisition is truly a community benefit, something our city should be proud of,” he continued. “A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this will be the home base of our city for the next 50 to 100 years.”

Former La Cañada senior planner Fred Buss, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony, said officials had eyed the property for years, zoning and planning the Town Center around the idea of a city hall someday being built on that parcel with a public park fronting Foothill Boulevard, where retail shops now sit.

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When Sport Chalet founder, the late Norbert Olberz, built the current structure in 2005 as a corporate headquarters, the layout the city had envisioned changed somewhat. Addressing ceremony attendants Tuesday, Walker said Olberz himself saw how well the spot would work for a municipal center.

“After the ribbon-cutting, Norbert leaned over to [Councilman Greg Brown] and said, ‘You know, I think this could make a great city hall someday,’” Walker said. “Norbert, we made it happen!”

After the presentation of ceremonial keys to City Council members and City Manager Mark Alexander, Walker led the ribbon-cutting and an unveiling of a dedication plaque located just east of the front entryway.

Led by recessional music from the La Cañada High School Marching Band, participants moved inside to enjoy refreshments and cake in the community meeting room before city officials transitioned to the new council chambers for their first regular council meeting in the new space.

sara.cardine@latimes.com

Twitter: @SaraCardine


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