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Midwick development moves forward with community support

The long contested Midwick Tract development has received the first of two approvals from City Council on Monday. The Council voted 4-1 in favor of the project, with Councilman Stephen Sham being the only dissenter.

Developer City Ventures revised their design to meet community demands.  “What we came back with, we basically listened,” City Ventures CEO Phil Kerr said.

The new blueprints will retain the five homes along Carlos Street that Midwick residents had wanted to preserve. Ventures has also reduced the size of a structure on the corner of Fremont Avenue and Carlos, cutting it down from three-stories to two-stories tall. “The majority of what people see will be while walking down Carlos Street. They’ll see exactly what they see today,” said Kerr, adding that the five homes on Carlos will be renovated and sold.

The former plan also had a gate restricting vehicle access, which some residents said was a sign of exclusivity. Ventures has now eliminated the gate.

The edits to Ventures' plan come after Councilman Luis Ayala hosted discussions between city staff, the developer and community representatives. “I wasn’t in charge, [the community representatives] weren’t in charge, City Ventures wasn’t in charge – we just sat down and let each other speak cause at the end of the day we just wanted to resolve the issues of concern for the benefit of the community,” Ayala told the Source. 

Elizabeth Salinas was part of the latest discussions with City Ventures and found the current proposal as favorable but not perfect. “I’m not 100 percent happy but I’m happy that I was part of the process, that my neighbors and I were heard," said Salinas. "And now we have something that will preserve Alhambra, that will preserve the beauty of Midwick.” Salinas has been a part of the “Preserve Midwick,” movement since 2011.

Alhambra resident Lucy Banuelos stated she is “in complete support” of the project but did note some concerns. “I think it’s great to have this. But what are we going to do with traffic?” Banuelos was concerned about adding congestion to Fremont Avenue.
Resident Ron Sahu called the new project a “win-win for everybody,” but questioned why it required an intervention on Ayala's part to reach a compromise. Originally, the Council was set to vote on the project during a Feb. 23 meeting. But, after hearing complaints from the audience that night, Ayala asked to shelve the vote for another date. He then asked to meet with residents and developers to find common ground.
“The Design Review Process, the Planning Commission process, I’m not sure what the fix is," said Sahu. "But these kinds of input that the community was giving which ultimately had to be dealt with arguably at the eleventh hour could’ve been dealt with sooner."
Many residents supported the revisions and thanked Ayala and City Ventures for their outreach. “Your civic engagement and your unification of voices is really what put pressure to make that last change,” Ayala said. Ayala asked for residents to stay involved beyond the Midwick development, and to give their input in the General Plan that is in the works. “This is your opportunity to help define what Alhambra should look like over the next 20-30 years.”
Sham voted against the proposal because he thought the project should only allow single-family residences, not multiple-family residences.
One more approval is required to finalize the 70-unit housing property. The vote will be held during the next Council meeting. 

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