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Part of Crossroads Center to be Developed








By Tony Aiello


Walgreens will spur development at stagnant “unsightly” center.


At its last meeting, the La Mirada Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit to allow for a drive-thru as part of a new 13,650 square foot Walgreens retail pharmacy to be built on  the southern portion of the site-which is mostly vacant- located at Telegraph Road and Imperial Highway.

“It’s good to finally be at this point,” said Ruben Arceo, director of community development for La Mirada, “we’re excited.”

The city has made numerous attempts to develop the center.

“Look for grading to begin this summer”, says Tab Johnson, partner, associated with Rich Development, who owns the property, “we should have everything done by the fourth quarter of this year.”

Jeanette Garcia who lives across the street on Goldendale Drive calls the property a “dumping ground.”

“They told us 10 years ago that a Home Depot was going in there. It’s looked like this since. We open our front door and this is what we see referring to the blight. There are always people dumping mattresses, furniture, dogs, puppies, you name it. And, in the summer we have the skateboarders. I’ve been going to the meetings so I can find out if this is really going to happen or not”, she said.

“I am very excited and am looking forward to this. I really want something done there. We want to spend money in our city. Unfortunately, La Mirada does not have a lot of shopping options, but this will very convenient.”

Home Depot twice considered developing on the site, once in 2000 and again in 2006, but both times those plans fell through. The plans would have required the realignment of Telegraph Road. Also, in 2004 a project was being considered to bring a Vons to the site along with a new shopping area and service station. Those plans simply fell off the radar.

The realignment of Telegraph Road still being considered last year will not happen. The Carriage restaurant and adjacent car wash will not be affected by the new development, and both “have long term leases,’” said Johnson.

The structure that currently houses Cardinal Liquor, a shoe store and a barber shop will be demolished to make way for the new development.

Also, the 900 square foot former Baskin-Robbins, a vacant eyesore for years, but an iconic landmark with nostalgic value for many in La Mirada, will be demolished.

The two banks, So Cal Pizza, Pep Boys automotive, and the offices and other businesses in the northern building will not be affected.

At this time, the Walgreens is the only new store scheduled to be built on the site. The entire center will not be developed all at once-but in increments, probably a sign of the economic times.

What most residents seem to want to know is what is going with the former Safeway location.

In September 2011 the commission approved a certificate of compatibility for a 30,000 square foot structure-now approved for 35,000- to be built where the former market, which was also a Moskatels and Michael’s, now stands. It appears the new building will not be constructed there until a tenant is secured, which has not happened yet, “We are talking, and are hopeful that we can find a suitable tenant soon,” said Johnson.

A poll recently conducted on the La Mirada Blog Facebook page showed that 72% of pollsters said they would like to see a specialty market such as a Trader Joes, Sprouts , or Whole Foods go in there.

But sometimes what the community desires, and what kind of tenant will build, are two different things.

Whatever eventually occupies that spot will “has been approved for some retail use, not an office space or anything else,” said city planner Gabriel Bautista.

For the new Walgreens, the grading and demolition should begin this summer, Johnson said.

He hopes the demolition of the Michael’s building will happen at the same time, but couldn’t be certain.

Many say La Mirada is over–saturated with pharmacies, so we asked Robert Elfinger, spokesperson for Walgreens, if the opening of this new store will affect or perhaps shutter the current smaller Walgreens at Imperial Highway and Valley View Avenue. He said, “I cannot comment at this time because I show no lease agreement with the new store you are referring to.”

Planning Commissioner Steve Keithly recused himself from the vote because of the proximity of his residence to the project, but he took the opportunity to speak as a concerned resident, “I’m in favor of it. I think we all had more grandiose plans for that center, when the redevelopment (agency) was around.”

“However, moving ahead at this time will get rid of two blighted buildings and a blighted parking lot. Most of my friends around the neighborhood will be real happy with that.”

Resident Cesar Reta who lives on Hutchins Drive, called the site unsightly and asked the commission what tenant is eventually going into the new larger building. Commissioner Ron Boatright indicated that after discussions with Johnson, there was not a specific tenant in mind at this time.

Reta also said he was concerned about the traffic situation, but neighbor Garcia said she is not particularly worried about it.

Johnson indicated the new Walgreens could open at the end of this year, or after Christmas, in early 2013.


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