The Shops at The Alhambra, on Fremont between Mission and Orange, may soon double in size and include a new big box store. Wayne Ratkovich, CEO of the Ratkovich Company, presented their plans for expanding The Shops at Alhambra retail center at Tuesday evening’s City Council and Redevelopment Agency meeting. He announced that an agreement had been reached to purchase the International Extrusions site at 1000 South Meridian Avenue, and escrow is scheduled to close in December.
They are also looking to purchase the facilities along Fremont Avenue just north of the Kohl’s shopping complex. Together, this would about double the size of the Shops at the Alhambra. Plans show two options, one of which includes a big-box retailer with significantly more square footage than the existing Kohls.
To help pay for the land acquisition for the expanded Shops at the Alhambra as well as a proposed project at the Alhambra Place at Garfield and Main (status of this project was not yet ready for presentation at last night’s meeting), the city is proposing an amendment to the Annual Action Plan which would utilize $4.9 million of Community Development Block Grant funding via a Section 108 loan. A public hearing for this amendment is scheduled for October 11, 5:30pm in the council chambers.
But a sense of urgency was prevalent as Mr. Fuentes described the state of Alhambra’s Redevelopment Agency. The Plan is scheduled to expire in 2012. If allowed to expire, the city would be unable to apply state and federal redevelopment funding to its projects. In order to extend redevelopment plans, the city needs to show a need which is based largely on evidence of structural or economic blight.
In support of this, the city had contracted with GRC Associates in March to perform a blight analysis. They, along with retired Alhambra Development Services Director, Michael Martin, who is consulting with the City, presented the results of their analysis. They concluded that their was sufficient evidence of blight and would be preparing an updated Redevelopment Plan accordingly.
John Oshimo, President of GRC Associates, cited threats to this proposal and the city’s ability to direct funding to commercial development. Namely, that the county and state will likely examine and possibly challenge their claims of blight; additional obligations dictated by the state for affordable housing; and an increase in the requirement for set-aside funding dedicated to housing needs from 20% to 30%.