2023 Colorado Street Bridge Party

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Advocacy Watch List

Advocacy Watch List

Pasadena Heritage continuously works, both proactively and in response to specific threats, to preserve and protect historic resources throughout the City of Pasadena. Below is a list of some high-priority buildings, sites, and development projects that we are monitoring closely.

This Watch list was last updated in March 2024.

Citywide Survey

The City of Pasadena’s Design and Historic Preservation Department is overseeing a citywide historic survey. Local preservation firm Historic Resources Group (HRG) and Architectural Resources Group (ARG) are collaborating on the effort. The survey will focus on neighborhoods that are not designated, and will address new themes and contexts including multi-family development, industrial development, culturally important sites, and resources representing Pasadena’s diverse communities.

Roosevelt Elementary School

Roosevelt School in Pasadena, which sits northwest of the 134 and 210 interchange, has sat vacant for several years after it was closed by PUSD. The District has begun to analyze the site for redevelopment, and would provide “workforce” housing for teachers. Simultaneously, a group of parents have submitted a landmark application for the school.

PCC Library and Harbeson Hall

PCC’s Facilities Master Plan calls for the demolition of the Bennett & Bennett-designed original library and Harbeson Hall. We are concerned that PCC has not considered a preservation-sensitive solution that would retrofit and rehabilitate the building.

Former YWCA (78 N. Marengo Ave.) and Civic Center

The 1923 Julia Morgan-designed building is a contributor to the Pasadena Civic Center Historic District. It has been vacant for more than 15 years and is in dire need of rehabilitation. Now owned by the City, the building’s condition has seriously deteriorated, despite our constant urging to better secure it from vandalism and rain. The City Council requested more background on the Civic Center and its original Bennett Plan as well as economic analysis of various future uses for the former YWCA in 2019. City staff issued an RFP for development, and a hotel proposal was selected. Litigation stalled the project, but it has since been resolved. We hope the hotel developer and City canreach agreeable terms very soon, because the building continues to be threatened when it sits vacant.

Paseo Hardscape Renovations

The new owner of the Paseo mall, Onni Group, has hired AO (formerly Architects Orange) to redesign the outdoor portions of the complex. The initial version of the project has some elements that are in conflict with the Reciprocal Easement Agreement (REA), which Pasadena Heritage helped to create, that reopened the visual axis of the Garfield Promenade. We are concerned about the effects on the view corridor and have urged the City to require a compatible design.

Swanson & Peterson Furniture Factory (Rusnak Porsche)

Rusnak Porsche has announced that this threatened Daylight- Industrial Factory will be preserved. The project will next move to the Planning Commission for CUP approval, and Pasadena Heritage is looking forward to seeing a scheme that preserves and reuses the building.

Civic Center Senior Affordable Housing

Pasadena Heritage has met with developer National Core and Onyx Architects on multiple occasions to make recommendations on the design of this senior affordable housing building just west of City Hall. We expressed concerns about previous versions of the project, which we found incompatible with the Civic Center, but find the current version acceptable. At the time of writing, the project needs approval for Final Design at the Design Commission.

Colorado Street Bridge

This iconic, National Register-listed bridge constructed in 1912 has unfortunately drawn negative attention due to suicides. A Task Force worked for over a year to provide recommendations for an effective, permanent solution to this ongoing and challenging problem. In the meantime, temporary fencing has been installed to deter suicides. Donald MacDonald Architects was chosen to develop alternatives. Mock-ups of the proposed barrier were installed, but disliked by the community. Pasadena Heritage and the Institute for Classical Architecture & Art then provided some alternative approaches. The City is now working with a new team of consultants, Apexx Architecture, Chattel, Inc. and PacRim Engineering, who are developing new concepts. Community feedback is being sought.

First Trust Building (595 E. Colorado Blvd.)

This historic bank building in the Playhouse District was designed by noted Pasadena architecture firm Bennett and Haskell and features murals by American impressionist Alson Clark. The storefront was vacated by Bank of the West and the building owners are looking for a new tenant. Spectra, a well- regarded preservation contractor, has undertaken some restoration work including the cleaning of the ceilings. We hope a new tenant who will preserve the interior can be found.

Sunset Reservoir

Pasadena Heritage staff and Advocacy Committee members toured the Sunset Reservoir, east of the City Yards on Mountain Street in Northwest Pasadena. The two reservoirs, which date back to the late 1800s, are slated for replacement. The project is being undertaken by PWP and is under environmental review.

Space Bank Site (3200 E. Foothill Blvd.)

The site of a formal Naval ordinance testing facility was to be redeveloped with housing, but that project seems to have stalled. The property is an eligible historic district, but due to contamination, most of the site would have to be cleared. Working with Pasadena Heritage, the developer agreed to retain some artifacts and the monumental torpedo-testing tank, and to place them on the site in the public spaces. The site is currently on the market, and we are waiting to see if that previous plan will move forward or if a new development plan will emerge.

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