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 high priority buildings, sites, and development projects that we are monitoring closely.
S.R. 710 N. Freeway Project
On November 28, 2018, State Senator Anthony Portantino and Caltrans officials announced the release the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (FEIR/EIS) for the S.R. 710 N. Project, officially taking the Tunnel Alternative, which we have long opposed, off the table. Although this was a cause for celebration, it becomes more imperative to finalize covenants on some of the historic properties in the 710 Corridor and secure National Register status for the Pasadena Avenue Historic District. Currently, dual state legislation regarding the 710 extension has been introduced that will effectively seal the fate of the 710 Freeway. Senator Portantino’s bill SB-7 restricts Caltrans from completing the 710 extension and expressly states: “The department shall not implement a freeway tunnel or surface freeway or expressway for Route 710 between Route 10 and Route 210.” Assembly member Chris Holden introduced a separate bill, AB 29, that “would remove the portion of Route 710 located north of Route 10 from the California freeway and expressway system.” Both pieces of legislation are important steps in moving beyond the 710, but leave some pressing questions open, including hat will happen to the 50-acre “stub” of the 710 that lies south of the 210 in Pasadena, as well as the other stub in Alhambra?
Pasadena Avenue Historic District
This National-Register-eligible historic district is situated within the 710 Corridor and contains a significant collection of early twentieth-century single-family homes, which could be at risk if sold without official designation. Pasadena Heritage may need to prepare a National Register nomination for the district if Caltrans will not do so.
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. Those reports were presented to the Council on April 8th. A recent push to consider the historic structure as housing for homeless individuals was discussed and has been suggested as a solution by Mayor Tornek. The Council approved a building envelope as presented by the landscape architecture consultant, and city staff will be issuing RFPs for development in the coming months. In the meantime, the Council urged that the City use the $300,000 that is earmarked for the building to be used towards waterproofing and mothballing.
135 N. Oakland Ave. (Former Fuller Theological Seminary Campus)
A year ago, Fuller announced its plans to sell its 13-acre downtown Pasadena campus and relocate to Pomona. The campus, which includes the Ford Place Historic District, was marketed by CBRE as various separate property groupings. Pasadena Heritage understands that negotiations are underway with a single potential new owner, but there is no other information publically available. Pasadena Heritage hosted a community meeting last fall to capture ideas and concerns from stakeholders and immediate neighbors of the Fuller campus. We prepared recommendations and submitted them to Fuller, CBRE, the City, and potential buyers we know of. We hope to have the opportunity to discuss those recommendations once a new owner is confirmed.
New Park in the Playhouse District
On the corner of Union St. and El Molino Ave., a parking lot with 101 spots sits half empty on most days. Just east of the lot, adjacent to N. Oak Knoll Ave., the unremarkable former Banner Bank building sits vacant. This month, the City Council unanimously approved a plan to create a park at the site, filling the need for more public green space in the Playhouse District. Despite a wave of commercial and residential growth in the District, the nearest parks are three-quarters of a mile away from the bustling area. Before construction of the park space, the City will undertake a yearlong process of neighborhood outreach and community-based design. The design and construction will be paid for through residential impact fees, which the city collects from new construction projects, and is an example of how these fees are used for public good.
Rose Bowl Centennial
In March, we met with the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit “whose primary goal is to financially ensure the protection, preservation, and enhancement of the future of the Stadium as a National Historic Landmark” to discuss future plans at the Rose Bowl. In April 2020, the Legacy Foundation is hosting a Roaring 20s themed “Party of the Century” to kickoff a $40 million capital campaign to fund preservation efforts and improvements at the stadium. Pasadena Heritage has played an important role in preserving and advocating for the Rose Bowl, and we intend to stay engaged and involved. With proper maintenance, investment and creative use of the space, the iconic stadium can make memories for future generations.
164 Chestnut St. (Smith House)
Pasadena Heritage is concerned about the 1904 Smith House, which was recently evaluated by a consultant and found to qualify as an historic resource. Because the home is developer-owned and not officially designated, and the property is zoned for multi-family development, we have been watching carefully. The home’s significance does not appear to be tied to its current site, so relocation is feasible. We understand that the developer is working on a plan to move the home.
3202 E. Foothill Blvd. (Former U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Station)
A large mixed-use project at the existing Space Bank Mini Storage site, which is eligible as an historic district due to its association with Cold War-era weapons research, received City approval, though debate continues about the adequacy of toxic clean-up that will be required. Working with Pasadena Heritage, the developer, Trammell Crow, has agreed to mitigation measures that include retention of some historic features and interpretive displays. Design review for the new apartment proposal was recently completed and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control completed their final report. Ongoing questions regarding site clean-up are under review by the City.
86 S. Fair Oaks Ave. (Central Park Apartments)
Design and environmental reviews continue pending for a large mixed-use project proposed by developer Goldrich Kest for the southwest portion of the block that includes the iconic Castle Green and Green Hotel Apartments. After a design proposal that received overwhelming pushback from the community, the project was completely redesigned and, from our perspective, was significantly improved. We understand the project may return to the Design Commission later this year.
Avon Products Building (2940 E. Foothill Blvd.)
The Corporate International-style Avon Products Building, designed by Neptune & Thomas in 1947, and the surrounding 14-acre site, developed between the 1950s and 1970s, is now owned by Home Depot. With urging from Pasadena Heritage, Home Depot has agreed to adaptively reuse the 1947 building, which is eligible for listing in the National Register. It is also exploring our suggestion to insert its new store into the existing footprint of the Avon warehouse and retain much of its Foothill Blvd. façade. We will continue to advocate for the protection of the 1947 building, an important Modern resource, and await more information about Home Depot’s plans for the site.
464 E. Walnut St. (First Congregational Church of Pasadena)
This Gothic Revival church, designed by architects H. M Patterson and Leon Caryl Brockway and completed in 1928, was sold to a private developer. The property is designated as a City Landmark, and initial plans are for adaptive reuse under a Mills Act contract. Pasadena Heritage has met with the new owners to offer advice and recommendations.
150 E. Colorado Blvd. ("Darth Vader Building")
A large mixed-use project will replace an existing non-historic office building, often referred to as the “Darth Vader Building,” built in 1980. Pasadena Heritage found the concept design for the new building sympathetic to its context. We continue to monitor the project, which will occupy a critical juncture between the Old Pasadena Historic District, Civic Center Financial Historic District, Civic Center Historic District, and The Paseo.
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. Pasadena Heritage has two representatives on the Task Force. An RFP was issued for the design of the permanent fence, and Donald MacDonald Architects was recently chosen to develop alternatives. In the meantime, temporary fencing has been installed to deter suicides.
170-180 S. Euclid Ave. (Pinney House)
A mixed-use project has been approved on the site of the 1906 Mission Revival-style Pinney House. In order to make way for the project, and with urging and from Pasadena Heritage, the house will be relocated to a site at 840-842 N. Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena Heritage plans to monitor the house’s relocation.
Historic Route 66
The National Trust for Historic Preservation included Route 66 on its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places on its 2018 list. As part of this effort, Pasadena Heritage joined the Trust in supporting a National Historic Trail designation for the fabled highway, which passes through Pasadena. The proposal passed unanimously through the House, but was not taken up by the Senate. Congress may revise and reintroduce this bill, and we are standing by to support it if it comes up again.
101 S. Marengo Ave. (Former Bank Americard Center)
The former Bank of America credit card processing center building at the corner of Marengo and Green was designed by firm of Edward Durrell-Stone in 1974. It was sold last year and was determined not to be eligible for historic designation. However, it stands as a dramatic, monolithic structure with travertine cladding that defines this important corner. At a Design Commission preliminary consultation session, proposed new window openings in the building were considered. Advice given to the architects was to be more creative in designing new openings in the windowless structure. Pasadena Heritage will continue to monitor the project and see what changes are next proposed.
Green Street Ficus Trees
Pasadena Heritage is concerned about the iconic Ficus trees that line Green Street and are integral to the City's unique character. Several mature but apparently diseased trees are proposed for removal. Pasadena Heritage urges the retention and proper care of all healthy trees.
550 E. Colorado Blvd. (Crown City Medical Plaza)
Pasadena Heritage is concerned about the proposed five-story medical office and commercial building known as the Crown City Medical Plaza. While this project does not directly impact historic resources, it represents, in our opinion, a missed opportunity for a critically located parcel at the very heart of Pasadena. As proposed, we find the project is incompatible with its context. We understand redesign is being considered.