City Looks Ahead to Revitalizing Route 66

 California, Daily  Comments Off on City Looks Ahead to Revitalizing Route 66
Feb 282011
 

I have not been in Glendora for some time now – but it seems they need to embrace te ‘history’ of the route (like so many other successful towns) and try not to wipe the ‘hisotry’ away….

 

With the sunset of redevelopment agencies drawing near – as well the uncertain current state of redevelopment agencies – city officials hope to boost economic development along the historic corridor.

In its heyday, Route 66 was one of the nation’s main transportation arteries that spanned through eight different states. But since the road’s decommission in the 1980s, many communities where the highway passes through have maintained the road’s name if only for historic and cultural value.

In Glendora, much of the city’s portion of Route 66 remains as it has for decades. Car repair and automotive shops line a portion of the road. But in an era where big box retailers and malls have replaced mom-and-pop businesses as central areas of retail, businesses along the corridor are struggling. Route 66 has been plagued with high vacancies.

With redevelopment agencies slated to sunset in 2019 – as well as the uncertain state of redevelopment agencies following Gov. Jerry Brown state proposal – city officials are looking into ways to speed up the process to revitalize its portion of the historic route into a sales tax-generating area. But planning for commercial, industrial, office, retail and residential development along the corridor is a long, slow and challenging process.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the council discussed future development plans as outlined in the city’s 20-year Route 66 Specific Plan, including possible projects to consolidate small parcels of land along the route and create more possibilities for future businesses. The Specific Plan determined types of desired development for different areas along the route.

While Route 66 currently generates far less sales tax revenue than other commercial areas, city officials say it provides a significant number of workforce opportunities, including Armstrong Nurseries, America’s Christian Credit Union and incoming Loopnet.

But dwindling redevelopment funds and the lack of eminent domain has limited and delayed development efforts on the historic route.

According to City Manager Chris Jeffers, current zoning along the route has allowed for multiple uses on small parcels. To update a considerable amount of property in the area, developers may have to deal with several owners, of which all may not be willing to sell.

“These small uses are underperforming,” said Jeffers. “It’s impeded, slowed and retarded economic growth from happening because of those facts. For instance, why would we have, in one of the major thoroughfares across this country, a junkyard? Does someone want to make an investment of millions of dollars knowing they’re right next to a junkyard? This is where economic blight comes in.”

According to Planning and Redevelopment Director Jeff Kugel, 14 percent of the city’s sales tax is generated from businesses on Route 66. Most of Route 66 is within a redevelopment zone – Project Area 3 – that does not generate any more tax increment. Kugel said about $7 million is left for improvement projects in Project Area 3, a number he said does not cover all of the proposed projects for the area.

The physical makeup of the route compounds difficulties in developing large-scale projects along the route.

“The challenge of assembling these parcels is that the road is bordered to the north by the Gold Line,” said council member Gene Murabito. “Parcels are not very deep and we have to assemble east to west.”

Location logistics is also affecting a proposed development at a former mortuary at 363 W. Route 66. Developers are proposing an 8,300-square-foot banquet hall on the land. But limited surrounding space – the property sits adjacent to a mobile home park— poses parking challenges. A public hearing on the project is planned at the planning commission meeting, Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

But with recently acquired properties along and around the corridor, the city is looking forward to new development. A baseball school is slated for an area on Route 66 and Amelia, along with housing development near the future Metro Gold Line. A vacant portion on Glendora Avenue and Route 66 has also been acquired.

Even with time and money constraints, city officials say that all future development will stay on course with the city’s Specific Plan.

“The key issue is that we need to keep consistency in this plan and avoid inclination to try to change it, monkey with it, fool with it before it has the chance to reach its full potential,” said Mayor Pro Tem Doug Tessitor.

-GlendoraPatch