Midwick Tract residents have launched a movement to stop a proposed new 93-unit housing development in their neighborhood. A collaboration between developer City Ventures and the current property owner Front Porch, the project would consist of townhomes, single-family houses, and nine "luxury suites" at 2400 S. Freemont Avenue. Residents opposing the development claim traffic would increase, the neighborhood would become too crowded and unsafe, and the development does not fit with the historic architecture of the community dating back to pre-World War II. The developer says that the property will fill a need in the local market.
For the past month residents have attended City Council meetings, presentations with City Ventures, and rallying neighbors to sign a petition which already has more than 300 signatures opposing the proposed project. "I chose Midwick Hill because I wanted to raise my kids in a safe environment," Sarah Wong, resident of Midwick Tract said at Monday's City Council meeting, where residents dominated oral communications for the second meeting in a row. "Does it mean I have to move out to have another safe environment for my kids?"Alhambra lifetime resident Betty Barnett raised an often voiced concern that it would destroy the architectural integrity of the community. “Multi-million dollar homes doesn’t fit," said Barnett, who has lived in Alhambra since 1950.View Larger Map
Bill McReynolds, vice president of development at City Ventures, said that the development will add value to the community, rather than hurt it. "We believe it is a great desirability to live in Alhambra and this is a product missing from their housing stock," he said in an interview. McReynolds emphasized that introducing luxury homes would be a good fit for Alhambra residents who have become more affluent and would like to live in larger houses, but dont want to move because they have local roots.
City Ventures has presented to Alhambra’s City Council on May 31, 2011 and September 12, 2011. The number of proposed homes grew from 81 in the first presentation to 93 in the second. McReynolds stated that the increase is because the first plan was merely showing concepts, whereas the second plan involved an architect setting out a floor plan and looking more closely at lot sizes and single family homes. McReynolds stressed that both presentations are conceptual, meaning nothing has been proposed or submitted. The current status of this project is still in the conceptual site plan mode. "We are still meeting with the community," he said.
The conceptual plan will make its way to both the Planning Commission and the Design Review Board before review by Alhambra’s City Council. “We don’t know where to start talking about this until they present a plan,” Councilman Steven Placido said, "we cannot veto a project they haven’t presented."
In response to the concerned residents, City Manager Julio Fuentes and Mayor Luis Ayala have organized a meeting for city staff, the developer, and residents to discuss the project on Thursday, October 20, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. at the Alhambra Library. “We are going to have to find some common ground somewhere to see if we can resolve this. And we will give it our best effort,” Fuentes said.
The proposed project is on hold till this meeting, McReynolds told the Source. "We are waiting to see what the outcome of the meeting is," he said. McReynolds stressed that his company welcomes comments from the community: "It's a collaborative process and we welcome dialogue." In addition to the October 20 meeting, former mayor Gary Yamauchi has said that he will try to have a representative from City Ventures at his town hall meeting on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. at the Ruth Reese Hall in the Alhambra Library.