They couldn't have done this a few years earlier?
New retail centers going up near campus will expand entertainment options for students, staff and faculty.
Story and photos by Kevin McPhee ’07
A movie theatre, new eateries and more shopping soon will be within walking distance of the College as retail projects move forward in Claremont and Upland.
This artist's conception provided by Tolkin Group shows the future Village expansion along Indian Hill Boulevard, looking west on First Street.
In Claremont, the city continues to expand the Village westward across Indian Hill Boulevard between Bonita Avenue and the railroad tracks. Until the expansion began, this area had changed little since the mid-1970s, when its citrus-related businesses closed.
Indian Hill Boulevard will be lined with cafes and shops, becoming the center of the expanded Village. A first phase of lofts and condominiums north of the railroad tracks has already sold out, and construction of more housing is planned this summer.
The 125,000-square-foot commercial expansion of the Village will begin in June or July of 2005, with completion expected in summer 2006, according to Scott Miller, Claremont’s economic development manager. The project will be carried out through a public-private partnership between the city and Tolkin Group, a Pasadena-based development company.
The Laemmle Theatres chain will operate a five-screen, 800-seat, art-film theatre in the expanded Village. Currently, a Claremont resident must travel at least as far as Pasadena, to another Laemmle Theatre, in order to view the kind of art, foreign and independent films that the chain cites as its hallmark. The theatre will be west of the shops that will line Indian Hill, between First and 2nd streets. “The general sophistication of the area,” as well as its “college centered populations,” made the project too good to pass up, according to Jay Reisbaum, director of development and operations for Laemmle Theatres.
A four-level parking garage will be built in this area between the packing house and Indian Hill.
Tracy Biga MacLean, academic director for Intercollegiate Media Studies, is excited about the new theatre. "The Laemmle Theatres are very responsive to their communities and tailor their offerings to the local audience," she says.
Students are pleased as well. Pomona Abby Browning ’07 comments, “I’m glad it’s going to be there before I graduate.” Alex Jakle ’06 laments the timing, but also notes, “I have a lot of friends who are into film. Getting a theatre around here will certainly be an upgrade.”
A boutique hotel will be located on the northeast corner of Oberlin and First streets. Operated by the Four Sisters Inn chain, the hotel will feature spa tubs, a pool, hors d’oeuvres service and afternoon wine. Developers expect that the inn’s proximity to The Claremont Colleges will bring business from alumni, guests of the colleges and visiting students. Four Sisters Inn has locations in Napa, Carmel, Dana Point and elsewhere.
BOOKSTORE ON THE WISH LIST
Attracting a bookstore remains a goal of the project, Miller says, though brick-and-mortar bookstores are facing economic challenges from online sellers. Other types of businesses sought include clothing stores, specialty food retailers and entertainment-oriented restaurants.
The lemon packing house, built in 1922, will be renovated with shops and live/work spaces.
The Village expansion will preserve a piece of the past. The College Heights Lemon Packing House, built in 1922, will be renovated by Arteco Partners for shops, eateries, live/work lofts and arts and cultural uses. The two-story, 78,000 square-foot project will feature a large courtyard in the center. Arteco Partners is run by brothers Jerry Tessier, a graduate of Claremont McKenna, and Ed Tessier ’91, who helped create the downtown Pomona Arts Colony.
The eastern and western wings of the historic packing house have been demolished, leaving the original, central portion of the warehouse to be renovated.
According to Project Manager Jerry Tessier, Arteco Partners is hoping to include restaurants with an entertainment or an outdoor component, and both a microbrewery and a jazz club are possible tenants. In addition, there has been discussion that an art museum may occupy space in the building. The packing house project, which should be completed by summer 2006, will also include live/work lofts on the second floor.
Robert Herman '51, a professor emeritus of sociology and former president of Claremont Heritage, is pleased that a portion of the packing house will be saved. “That’s a last vestige of an important part of Claremont’s history,” he says.
Loft-style homes sold quickly
in the first phase of expansion.
To accommodate visitors shopping in the expanded Village, the city will build a four-level, 477-space parking structure between the packing house and Indian Hill Boulevard.
Claremont’s Village expansion began with the construction of more than 100 town homes and lofts west of Cornell Avenue north of the railroad tracks. This high-density project sold out quickly, and construction of the second phase, on the site of the former City Yard just north of the first-phase homes, is set to begin this summer.
Herman believes projects such as this, clustering high-density housing near rail stations, are important for relieving smog and gridlock in Southern California. “Urban sprawl is a swear word in my lexicon,” he says.
UPLAND PROJECT SEEKS COLLEGE CROWD
A separate retail and housing development is planned near the eastern edge of the colleges, just over the Claremont city border in Upland.
Orange County-based Hutton Development Co. plans to start building a 44,000-square-foot retail center early this year at the southwest corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Arrow Route. Like the Village expansion, the College Park Retail Centre will be home to a number of shops and sit-down restaurants. Unlike Claremont Village, however, the Upland center is set to feature drive-thru restaurants as well.
Hutton Vice President Scott Felix said the Upland development is geared toward The Claremont Colleges community, and its retail and restaurant offerings will reflect this.
The retail center will be part of a larger, 40-acre development. Most of the College Park project will consist of housing in the form of 50 single-family detached homes and 448 luxury apartment units.