Regional Profile: Pasadena

By Brian Wallace

Pasadena has remained a competitive place to do businesses. Over the course of the past several months, the City of Pasadena has experienced the announcement and completion of several significant developments.

In Old Pasadena, the grand opening of the newest Saks Fifth Avenue Main Street Concept store was held five months ago in time for the Christmas shopping season. The New York-based company successfully converted a vacant Firestone tire center built in the 1920s into a 28,000-square foot department store. Located in the retail core of Old Pasadena at Union Avenue and DeLacey Street, the store is only one block north of famous Colorado Boulevard. The company hopes to expand this concept, which focuses primarily on women's apparel in a smaller-than-typical store, in other streetfront locations throughout the country.

A significant milestone for Pasadena's Playhouse District was reached earlier this year with the opening of the Laemmle Playhouse 7 Theaters. Located on Colorado next to long-time district anchor Vroman's and near the historic Pasadena Playhouse, Laemmle offers seven stadium-style theaters showcasing the latest art and foreign films. The new development also includes a restaurant and a public art paseo. It is the largest in the Laemmle chain.

Recent groundbreakings have included two large-scale projects in downtown Pasadena. The Courtyard by Marriott Hotel is currently under construction on Fair Oaks Avenue, just south of the 210 Freeway. Its location in the northern part of Old Pasadena fulfills yet another segment of downtown's re-emergence as a mixed-use community. The 314-room hotel is under construction and should open by mid-2000.

A 171,000-square foot office building has also broken ground at Colorado Boulevard and Catalina Avenue. Its combination of five stories of office space with ground-floor retail will tie into the existing and South Lake business district.

Other impending projects include the redevelopment of Plaza Pasadena, the city's downtown shopping mall. Proposals by owner Trizec Hahn call for a mixed-use development including, entertainment, retail, restaurant, and housing. Anticipated completion is mid-2001.

Alongside Macy's on South Lake Avenue, a recently-approved plan for retail and restaurant infill will break ground late this year. The project will add several boutique-type retail and restaurant spaces to the city's established South Lake shopping district.

Continuation of Pasadena's growth in high-tech business can be found in new start-up companies with significant presence in the city. Calstart, soon to become Westart, a company dedicated to alternative or "green" transportation concepts, recently moved into the Stuart Pharmaceutical building in East Pasadena. Caltech and JPL continue to anchor this and other types of small technology-based businesses in the city.

Brian Wallace is with the City of Pasadena Housing and Development Department.

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