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Alhambra residents split on developing entertainment and hotels on Valley Boulevard

  • Rendering of Valley Boulevard entertainment node. Courtesy of Alhambra Community Development Department.

  • Rendering of East Valley Boulevard with active, pedestrian-oriented nodes. Courtesy of Alhambra Community Development Department.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

It’s a sunny Tuesday afternoon at Crawford’s Corner, a plaza at the intersection of Valley Boulevard and New Avenue in Alhambra.

Customers criss-cross each other between the large parking lot and the 168 Supermarket, as well as smaller shops where people can get their photos developed, get background checks done or buy boba, among other services.

Crawford’s Corner is located just before Alhambra’s eastern boundary, an area that the city’s draft general plan singles out as a potential place for development. The plan proposes considering the eastern part of Valley Boulevard as a location to concentrate “retail, entertainment and hospitality uses.” This includes hotels, an idea that has proved controversial at various community meetings addressing the general plan.

Rincon Consultants, who put together the draft, identified the opportunity of building up entertainment districts in this location through a market survey conducted by their economist. “There’s probably more pent up demand for hotel space in the city and for other types of entertainment uses,” said Joe Power, principal for Rincon.

Power added that some community members expressed a desire for more entertainment in Alhambra. ““We actually heard this conceptually from some of the people at the workshops that they wanted more things to do, more places to go, fun stuff to do in Alhambra,” he said.

The Crawford family opened their namesake market in 1929 at this intersection. In 1964, they built out the market in 1964 as a shopping center with distinct Old West architecture, according to the Alhambra Preservation Group.

Now Crawford’s Corner serves a mainly Asian clientele, as does the stretch of Valley Boulevard a few hundred feet down, dominated by tall, glittering plazas of restaurants, shops and large hotel chains like Hilton and Sheraton. In comparison, Alhambra’s portion of Valley Boulevard looks older and worn down.

Some business owners have mixed feelings about the economic impact of redeveloping Valley Boulevard.

“I’m all for fixing the area, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to add anymore hotels here,” said Cynthia Bao, 31, who works as a notary public at Crawford’s Corner. “With all these tourist buses, it’s too saturated.”

Others see the potential in developing this part of Valley Boulevard. “There are a lot of foreigners going to restaurants, but most of them hang out in San Gabriel,” said Ken Lam, who works at Crawford’s T Mobile store. “It’s pretty quiet in Alhambra.”

“It’ll increase the business and the amount of customers,” said Cassandra Giang, 20, who works at Ladybug Teahouse, of any hotels that might come in. She added that it would be nice for this area to have more entertainment, like karaoke.

Still, Giang said she’s neutral on any changes, unless they mean the end of the small businesses already established here. “Ladybug has been here for eight years,” she said.

At a community meeting on Sept. 11, Alhambra City Councilmember Barbara Messina spoke out against bringing in any large hotels. “That’s not the use we want,” she said. “There are enough hotels in San Gabriel and Monterey Park.”

Another resident, Brian Chan, made the case for Alhambra as a tourist destination. “It is famous in Mainland China and in Hong Kong, I happen to know that firsthand,” he said. “It’s even a destination city for eating in the LA area.”

The public comment period for Alhambra’s draft general plan update has been extended to Wednesday, Oct. 3. View a copy here and email the city at generalplan@cityofalhambra.org with your thoughts.

Read our guide to the general plan update here, as well as our articles on the proposed linear park and on the bike plan.

4 thoughts on “Alhambra residents split on developing entertainment and hotels on Valley Boulevard”

  1. Valley Blvd between New Ave and Del Mar Ave is crazy congested as is already between plaza for 168, 99 Ranch, and Hawaii markets. It is absurd to add another hotel with megabus to that corner.

    Alhambra should focus on plaza with less crowd but a potential to draw visitors. Couple places came to mind — Main St vs Chapel (a great mix of Asian and Western restaurants along Main), or Valley Blvd vs Almansor (there are mostly restaurants, but it has potentials to expand).

  2. Linda Trevillian

    I read the entire article to which a link in Sean McMorris’ comment is included. I agree with Melissa Michelson, who states actual facts about the need (or not) for a hotel. Alhambra’s main streets already are clogged with vehicles many hours of every day, weekday or weekend. As both the Alhambra Source and the Colorado Boulevard articles acknowledge, the data used in the city’s report are old (2014), but not acknowledged in the city’s report (for the updated general plan). Alhambra simply does not need a hotel, one that most likely is not ever fill to 70 per cent, let alone full capacity. This kind of development is what our city DOES NOT NEED.

  3. I read the piece linked by Sean and he raises questions about data, but the most important data missing is what the estimated tax take would be from a hotel in east Alhambra. Of course, the local residents are opposed to any change notwithstanding that residential property values could be enhanced by renters choosing to be close by. The real fly in the ointment is the traffic on E Valley and what will be done to put some better order to it in perhaps cooperation with San Gabriel.

  4. There is another article that was recently published that goes into great detail about the lack of need for mega hotels in Alhambra and the flaws in the draft general plan’s analysis, which suggests there is a public want and economic demand for more hotels on Valley. You can read it at the link below.

    https://coloradoboulevard.net/welcome-to-hotel-alhambra/

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