Market moves a step closer to opening

The long-vacant former Sport Chalet location on Foothill Boulevard moved one giant step closer to becoming a Henry's Market Tuesday night.

In a discussion that ended with praise for Sun Valley architect James Cary, Planning Commission members unanimously approved a conditional-use permit and zoning change to allow for the restoration and reuse of the building as a 22,000 square-foot grocery store.

"You've done a great job on improving a site that looked tired and worn. A nice market there will be a welcome addition," Commissioner Michael Cahill said, echoing the overall positive reception for architectural plans to spruce up the building.

The building's new façade will employ wood and plaster to evoke a craftsman style that will complement the Town Center development across the street, and long covered windows featured in the site's 1948 design as a Market Basket food store will be restored.

Gables to the east, north and south of the building will conceal the building's curved bow-truss roof. Streetscape improvements include removal of the former blind-turn entrance along Foothill Blvd. and installation of a right-turn lane there to direct traffic to the safer entrance along Beulah Drive.

"Our goal was to recycle an existing historic box structure and its antiquated site into the established La Cañada Flintridge village theme of pedestrian-friendly, human-scale fenestration and amenities to create a unique grocery offering for the community," Cary said.

Citing the length of the public process, Cary declined to speculate when construction might get underway. But, he said, completion and opening is slated for March 2011.

Though the building's original use was as a grocery store, a zoning change is needed because restrictions put in place 10 years ago during Town Center development barred large food markets in the immediate area.

Senior Planner Fred Buss said council members imposed that food-market regulation at the time to prevent grocery stores from abandoning their existing locations and intensifying development around Town Center, which is no longer a concern.

Before building permits are issued, City Council members must approve the Planning Commission's recommended zoning change.

The project must also go through a second round of Design Commission scrutiny for final landscaping approval.

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