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Planning Commission to conduct hearing on demolishing Twohey’s restaurant building

There's an application in front of the Planning Commission on March 4 to demolish the Twohey's building and replace it with a multi-tenant restaurant and retail building. Photo by Phoenix Tso.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Alhambra’s Planning Commission has not met since Jan. 22, when they conducted the first of three public hearings on the city’s draft general plan. With that process postponed until May as the city seeks more resident input, the Planning Commission resumes its regular meetings on Monday at 7 p.m. with a hearing regarding the proposed demolition of the Twohey’s restaurant building, the beloved diner that celebrated its 75th anniversary last year and is set to move to South Pasadena soon.

The plan is to demolish the Twohey’s building, which takes up 6,217 square feet and a storage building of 1,534 square feet and replace it with a 6,913 square foot building, according to the Planning Commission staff report. The new building is anticipated to hold three restaurants, with one restaurant also having patio space, and a retail space. The applicant, Ken McKently, filing on behalf of property owner Brad Butler, anticipates the uses to be “less intensive” than currently, since the total area of the new building will have less square footage than the Twohey’s building and storage building combined. Total restaurant space will also be reduced from 6,217 square feet to 5,416 square feet, including the new restaurant patio. The new building’s configuration also means that the plaza will gain two parking spots and eight bicycle spots that were not originally on site. McKently and Butler are applying for a commercial planned development permit, under which a multi-tenant commercial plaza is an allowed use.

These buildings are currently located at a plaza at Atlantic Boulevard and Huntington Drive that also has a popular In-N-Out fast food restaurant. The new plan includes adding a lane to the Atlantic Boulevard entrance that would be dedicated to just entering the parking lot. There is currently one right-turn lane at that entrance that goes to both the parking lot and the In-N-Out drive-thru, causing traffic congestion in the plaza and at the intersection of Atlantic and Huntington.

In an email included in the staff report, Gene Masuda wrote to Alhambra’s community development department in opposition to the plan. “The only way to make this property have sufficient parking is to remove the Twohey’s building and turn that area [in]to parking for In-N-Out Burger,” he wrote, or to build underground parking. Masuda is a managing agent on behalf of the Yano Family, who owns an office building across the street at 100 E. Huntington Drive. The surrounding area is a mix of single-family residential neighborhoods, high-density residential neighborhoods and commercial buildings.

When we spoke to Twohey’s owner Jim Christos in January of last year, he told us that Twohey’s was closing in Alhambra because the property owner raised the building’s rent by three or four times. The restaurant was set to close in September, but has continued to operate since then. This Planning Commission hearing should offer more information on what the owner plans for this property once Twohey’s officially moves out.

The Planning Commission will also have new faces deliberating on this issue. Newly sworn-in Councilmember Katherine Lee has appointed Danny Tang and William Yee as the commissioners representing Alhambra’s first district. Tang is a civil engineer for the City of Los Angeles and Yee is a retired social studies teacher from Alhambra High School.

Newly sworn-in Alhambra Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler has appointed Andrea Lofthouse Quesada, an environmental science teacher at Alhambra High School who ran for City Council last year in the first district. Andrade-Stadler also appointed Ron Sahu. Sahu is an independent consultant on environmental and energy issues, with a PhD in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. Sahu is also a member of the local non-profit Grassroots Alhambra, an organization that has taken up campaign finance reform and affordable housing in Alhambra.

Councilmember David Mejia also appointed a new commissioner, Suzi Dunkel-Soto, who ran for City Council in the fifth district last year. Dunkel-Soto is a realtor who previously served on the Planning Commission from 2013 to 2018. City Council members appoint Planning Commissioners.

Other agenda items include a hearing to allow Wing On Market to open a poultry retail store at 2107 W. Commonwealth Ave., in the Costco Plaza shopping center.

Read the complete Planning Commission agenda here.

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