Planned demolition of 90-year-old Alhambra home causes outcry

A 1924 Colonial Revival home in Alhambra is scheduled to be demolished to make room for an extension to Silverado, a senior living facility. The planned demolition has upset some Alhambra residents and the Alhambra Preservation Group, who are concerned about the city's lack of an ordinance that would protect historical buildings and landmarks, the Pasadena Star-News reports.

The house in 1930.

Christine Olson, president of the preservation group, told the Star-News that Alhambra City Council is not interested. “None of them have been willing to push for a historic preservation ordinance," she said. 

Alhambra Mayor Stephen Sham told the publication that he would need to speak to the rest of City Council about historical preservation. “Everybody has their own heart in terms of what they want or something they value, but there’s got to be an overall standard of what is historical or not,” Sham told the Star-News. “It’s really the property owners. If they purchase it and they want to maintain it, I don’t see anything wrong. The city can’t tell them to do this or that.”

Read the full story from the Pasadena Star-News.

19 thoughts on “Planned demolition of 90-year-old Alhambra home causes outcry”

  1. Linda Trevillian

    If Silverado wishes to expand, why can’t it simply use the home as it is? The firm’s original property (next door) was tastefully remodeled and expanded without sacrificing the exterior of that residence. I’m sure that the same could be done with this beautiful home. It’s not just about saving a 90-year-old home; it’s saving the whole block from a building that will not fit in. Bad enough that there’s an ugly apartment building north of the two residences. The block still is primarily single-family residences, all of them very attractive.

  2. “It’s really the property owners. If they purchase it and they want to maintain it, I don’t see anything wrong. The city can’t tell them to do this or that.”

    And that comment by Sham is the MO Alhambra’s City Council/Political Money-Making Machine has been operating under for decades.

    Sham needs to go. Besides, taking a trip to China to boost money for his personal business WHILE SERVING AS MAYOR tells you what his priorities are. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

    1. Sham – “…The city can’t tell them to do this or that.”

      Actually the city does tell owners to do this or that. It is called zoning laws. Laws from which they are all too willing to exempt their favorite developers.

  3. @ELunder, You obviously seem to ignore the effects of sprawl and the damage it is doing to our surrounding communities. Your headache against the city is the migraine you are creating yourself. Thanks to sprawl and people who hate higher density and taller buildings, our need to grow and adapt to regional population pressures only pushes us to seek development laterally and in all spaces available.

    You don’t speak for me and those are just your opinions. My opinion is that preservation is EXPENSIVE with the limited land we have left. Either you or someone else pays for it or we can grow denser and taller to actually preserve more open space, including these historic places. Why don’t you read up on what a Floor Area Ratio is, it tells a lot on how we grow smarter and preserve open spaces. That LA Conservancy report card is only telling a fraction of the story! Unlike you, I’m not going to be a sucker and believe everything published out there without understanding the other issues involved.

    The city isn’t perfect, but they are doing a much better job in creating a beautiful walkable community and adapting to growth than perhaps what you would prefer – being frozen in time.

    1. Sacrificing our history and historical resources for increasing the density levels in Alhambra to accommodate so called “housing requirements” is a bogus argument. Alhambra is saturated and has the second highest density in the San Gabriel Valley. This density level has affected the residents with traffic congestion, lack of park space and environmental pollution. Reevaluating our ability to continue non-stop growth should be a priority for the city council.

      Discounting the results of a legitimate organization like the LA Conservancy is disingenuous.

      You keep talking about the cost when it is proven having a historical ordinance increases property values and there are many studies to back this up.

      It is the real estate developers and our city government that oppose any restrictions on our current growth. The residents have spoken out to no avail. Alhambra has always been about the money to be made by a close circle of developers that have connections. Do you remember the bribery case a few years ago where a former mayor offered a large chunk of change to swing a vote for his condo project? He was convicted. The behind closed doors arrangements must stop.

      I hope the city council wakes up and begins to take some solid steps to preserve our neighborhoods for future generations.

      1. Seriously, is “history” being sacrificed here? Maybe you can be the one to buy this property and maintain it yourself. Easier said than done. Bogus argument? So according to your logic we should have kept the Alhambra Airport, since its so important to “history”. Shame on my neighbors on Norwood for hogging up what was once historic land with their excessive sprawled out housing, and that was when we weren’t even as dense. Please, go tell them how bogus they are!

  4. @Timmy
    Alhambra received an “F” from LA Conservancy, which has been noted in the news recently. A quick look at our neighbors like South Pasadena and Pasadena who have preservation ordinances shows increased property values, historical neighborhoods that are well maintained and greater community involvement. Your responses are very much like the attitude of our current city government and is devoid of balance. Growth while preserving the heritage, history and culture of our city should be the goal and an ordinance that recognizes this is long overdue. Alhambra was know as the “City of Beautiful Homes” but I believe now is a “City of Overdevelopment”. Hopefully we can elect new council members in the upcoming election that have more progressive views on preservation.

  5. @ Richard,

    Why don’t you just build an entire wall around the city. Place guards in all the thoroughfares and let NO ONE in.

    Slow growth? That’s the disaster recipe we already had in place. Where have you been?

  6. City Council motto -“DESTROY,BUILD,DESTROY,BUILD!” With the water shortage facing us how can the city council continue to support & approve soooo much OVERDEVELOPING, which will mean more water services for more added people. PLEASE IF THERE ARE SLOW-GROWTH PROSPECTIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS OUT THERE – I WILL SUPPORT THEM – let’s get rid of this city council with their mind set of “DESTROY,BUILD!”

  7. Alhambra gets an F from the LA Conservancy for their historical preservation efforts.

  8. Linda Trevillian

    I know this street well, and it’s a beautiful. I’ve long admired that lovely Colonial-style home and see NO reason why it should be demolished. As I remember, it’s next door to the large home that Silverado already owns (this is right down the street from Twohey’s for those of you who aren’t familiar with the area). Although I think it’s disgusting that the City of Alhambra has no preservation plan endorsed by the city administrators, I also wonder why Silverado can’t remodel the inside of this “mansion,” like the company did with the one just north of it. The two properties complement each other beautifully. Plus, any house that was built in 1924 is undoubtedly better constructed than what Silverado could build today. Still, shame on our city officials for missing the boat for so long and allow us to lose many of our most historic and beautiful residences. Condos are fine on main streets, but in this neighborhood, NO, NO, NO. Leave it the way it is.

    1. @ Linda Trevellian

      So you want government to tell us what to do with our properties?

      It’s always the government’s fault, isn’t it?

      Why didn’t you buy this property?

      1. What do you think zoning laws do? Do you want to get rid of those too?

  9. This isn’t the Eifel Tower or Great Pyramid of Giza. It’s even less than 100 years old…

    If people here are so ferocious on preserving it, then why don’t they (and the Alhambra Preservation Group) start buying these properties themselves!

    The bottom line is that preservation costs money. If people want our streets to be living museums, then they should fork out the cash themselves. There are other people in this world who could use the land as well, not just these preservationists. Unless it carries great cultural significance deemed by a society at large (which in this case seems like its not), land must be shared, not frozen in time.

    1. What a bunch of crap. So, only the rich have the right to preserve things?

      Saving the cultural history of the city is part of the responsibility of a responsible city government. They should do more than placate their big business sponsors.

      Preservation is not freezing something in time. It is preserving and sharing city history with future citizens.

  10. If someone care so much about preservation, they should of purchase this property in the first place. Anyway, at least our beloved old seniors will have a place to stay after retirement since there is a shortage of affordable senior housing.

    1. As I understand it, the old woman who lived in the home, did NOT want it torn down after she turned it over to Silverado (which they are only too eager to “accept” in exchange for long-term care), but they should’ve stayed on the ball. I mean, they’re what, just next door?

      Bottom line is that there’s a secret handshake of sorts between the business, and the City political makeup. Always has been and why residents have historically gotten the short end of the stick in Alhambra.

  11. Preserving our cultural landmarks and historic neighborhoods is not part of the vision supported by our city officials. Building new condos, expanding development into our R-1 neighborhoods and implementing unchecked growth above livability issues is the modus operandi for the future vision of our city.

  12. I suspect that the Silverado has made more political contributions to our city council than has the Alhambra Preservation Group.

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