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 left 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? The City of Pasadena has been working closely with Caltrans on "relinquishment" of the stub, in which the State would turn over the land to the City, but complex transportation issues still need to be addressed. We eagerly await an outcome.
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. City staff will be issuing RFPs for development, and two projects entered negotiations with the City. 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.
Fuller Theological Seminary
In May 2018, Fuller Theological Seminary announced the sale of its 13-acre Pasadena campus, its home since 1947, and said it plans to relocate to Pomona. The multidenominational evangelical graduate institution's campus includes the Ford Place Historic District, open space, and various institutional, multi-family residential, and office buildings. Pasadena Heritage is concerned about the future of the campus, and we are interested in seeing the historic buildings preserved and adaptively reused in a sensitive manner. We also see the campus as a critically important central Pasadena place that requires careful planning. We hosted a meeting on September 12, 2018 to capture ideas, wishes, and concerns from community stakeholders and immediate neighbors and have formulated some recommendations to share with the City and other applicable parties. In late 2019, it was announced that Fuller Seminary will not be relocating to Pomona, and will instead stay in Pasadena. We look forward to working with the school to plan for its future.
Swanson & Peterson Furniture Factory
Just south of the new Home Depot site, Rusnak and Porsche are proposing a new car dealership. We are concerned about the historic building at 96 N. Sunnyslope Ave., which would be demolished under current plans. Although this modest brick factory building may look unassuming, it was the long-time location of the Swanson & Peterson furniture company, run by two Scandinavian-born woodworkers that were critical to the Craftsman Era, and transitioned into furniture production in the Modern Era. We presented some of our findings to the City Council and were pleased that several Councilmembers shared concerns about demolishing the building. We believe that the site can be redeveloped successfully while preserving the historic factory building, and that the retention of the building will lead to a stronger project overall.
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 planned to host a Roaring 20s themed “Party of the Century” to kickoff a $40 million capital campaign to fund preservation efforts and improvements at the stadium. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 those plans were scrapped. The Rose Bowl Operating Committee has faced a year up upheaval, with no fans in attendance for football games or concerts, but also experiencing a surge in golfing and Pasadena residents enjoying the Rose Bowl loop. 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, and an important resource for Pasadena.
2632 E. Washington Blvd. (St. Luke's Hospital)
St. Lukes, a Pasadena Landmark, remains largely vacant and its future is unknown. The current owners appear to be using the newer operating suites on the north side of the building for frequent filming. It would make a great housing project, as we have suggested in the past. We continue to monitor it, and hope a future use will emerge as it is never good for a building to sit vacant year after year.
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. We continue to work closely with the architects and the Department of Public Works to help aid the design of a permanent barrier.
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.
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. We also continue to advocate for the trees through the Specific Plan process, asking for building setbacks and stepbacks that will ensure healthy growth.
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.