As many Southern California cities feel their way through their first mixed-use projects, Pasadena is already the region's undisputed leader. With 21 such projects completed or under construction since 2000, the city's thriving Central District shows how a community can mold its downtown to let residents work, live and play without driving.
It didn't hurt that the city was already an architectural gem with a base of 100,000 jobs, or that the Gold Line to Union Station runs through the heart of the Central District. Add to that the sustained support of city planners for mixed-use projects, and conditions have been ripe for a migration of residents to the city's core. Since 1994, more than 2,300 downtown residential units have been completed, with more than 1,000 under construction.
People are living and working at the Pasadena Collection, a $36 million development with 130,000 square feet of office condos, residential condos and lofts, and more than 20,000 square feet of retail.
The Del Mar Station project underscores the Central District's focus on mass transit. Originally developed by Urban Partners LLC and sold in July to Archstone-Smith Properties, the project includes the rehabilitation of the historic Santa Fe train station, as well as 347 apartments and more than 11,000 square feet of retail. It also has on-site access to a Gold Line station.
The signature Pasadena mixed-use development is the 15-acre Paseo Colorado project, where Trizec Properties and Post Properties put 387 apartment units over 600,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, movie theaters and a supermarket. The development, which was completed in 2001, replaced an enclosed mall that had lost two of its three anchors.
The Pasadena mixed-use experience was reflected in a zoning plan adopted in late 2004. "We saw that we had to refine our standards and guidelines," said Richard Bruckner, the city's director of planning and development. "Developers were using mixed-use zoning to put residential units downtown and were just putting in token retail." The new plan requires "real retail" with 50-foot depth to the back of the building.
"We also refined the uses that could go in," Bruckner said. "If you don't, you have the potential to end up with medical or real estate offices, which aren't what people are looking for downtown."
* Best Community
Richard Bruckner, director of planning and development
First Mixed-Use Project: Holly Street Village, 1994
Completed Mixed-Use Projects: 15
Design Philosophy: Building a vibrant downtown based on strong planning and maximum use of transit.
Quote: "We saw that we had to refine our standards and guidelines. Developers were using mixed-use zoning to put residential units downtown and were just putting in token retail."
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