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