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Plaza renovation underway

Preliminary demolition work is underway at Plaza de La Cañada, ushering in the first phase of what shop owners say is a much needed overhaul of the site.

Safeway, which owns the property, has secured a demolition permit for the former bank building that sits on the lot, Community Development Director Robert Stanley said. Interior improvements to the Vons grocery store, located within the shopping center at Oakwood Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, have also been authorized.

Additional redesign plans, which include changes to the facade of the shopping complex, and the reconfiguration and re-landscaping of the parking lot, will go before the La Cañada Flintridge Design Commission today.

Under the proposal, the parking lot would gain several dozen spaces, bumping the total number to 362. The driveways would also be relocated to improve access to the parking lot, Stanley said.

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City officials have endorsed the plans.

“The main thing is it is creating better circulation,” Stanley said. “Right now, the way the parking lot is designed, it has very difficult circulation and access.”

Safeway representatives met with tenants on Jan. 22 to discuss details of the project and to answer questions. Priscilla Luther-Heft, who owns the Around the World book shop located in Plaza de La Cañada, said she welcomes improvements that could help attract additional foot traffic.

“The communication has been wonderful with the [Safeway] Company in my opinion,” Luther-Heft said. “[The construction] is going to be inconvenient, but that is understandable. I am not complaining at all.”

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The shopping complex is in need of an upgrade, said Rima Mehdikhani, who works at the Regal Cleaners and Laundry. Heavy rain causes drainage problems, and the current number of parking spaces is insufficient, she said.

“Sometimes the parking lot is too full and [customers] complain,” Mehdikhani said.

Renovation plans for the Plaza de La Cañada have been in the works for six years, and have changed in scope and depth more than once. Original plans called for an extensive overhaul of the entire complex, including the addition of a second breezeway that would connect the north parking lot to the interior of the shopping plaza. Safeway representatives submitted a scaled down version of the redesign to the city in July.

“After reviewing various elements of the larger project, we came to the conclusion that we could offer the customers of this shopping center most of the same benefits with the current project,” spokesperson Carlos Illingworth said.

The interior remodel of the Vons store is expected to be completed by the end of April, Illingworth said, and the parking lot should be completed in June.



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