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Development set to break…finally

A mixed-use development on the site of the former Rich Products building could finally break ground sometime next month, according to city officials.

The location of the former food manufacturing facility will be transformed into The Village Lofts, a multi-story mixed-use development with residential and commercial components. It is the final piece of the puzzle in the Village West Expansion Plan, according to Director of Community Development Brian Desatnik.

Construction was originally supposed to be completed by early 2017, but has been pushed back.

“We’re hoping that it gets started next month,” Mr. Desatnik said. “I was hoping it was already started, but they’re still waiting on them for a couple items.”

Those items include a redirecting of the sewer connections near the property; a project Mr. Desatnik says should not take long and is “a fairly simple thing.”

Principal planner Christopher Veirs explained that during master planning of the city sewers, the sewers around the project were near capacity, and a re-routing of the lines to an under-utilized line is needed.

Mr. Veirs also noted the firm behind the development, Denley Investments and Management, has given priority to other projects ahead of The Village Lofts.

“The reality is, it’s a small family-owned company and they do things at their own pace and they’ve got products in other cities,” Mr. Veirs said, noting that he had been calling the firm weekly for status updates on the project.

Mr. Desatnik expects the year-and-a-half long project to be completed sometime in 2018, but was unable to provide a specific date.

“If they were going to start it now, it would be early,” he said. “It may be late 2017.”

Mr. Veirs noted that construction on the project could start in as early as three weeks if the sewer issue is promptly fixed.

The project will contain 74 one-and-two bedroom apartment units across two buildings, ample retail space on the first floor and onsite parking. Mr. Viers was unconcerned about commercial capacity for the project, saying that Denley has “no concerns about leasing it out.”

The building was officially torn down in June 2015 and has remained a fenced-off lot ever since. According to a previous article in the COURIER, construction was supposed to commence in August of that year.

A call to Denley Investments had not been returned as of press time.

Another future project that may transform central Claremont is the parcel along the western edge of Indian Hill between Santa Fe Street and Arrow Highway. The land, which currently houses the Vortox facility and the long-shuttered Richard Hibbard Chevrolet dealership, has long been touted as a possible location for future development.

Mr. Veirs said the nearby Keck Graduate Institute recently acquired the Vortox facility. “They recently bought it and my understanding is that it’s closed,” he said. “It’s a done deal.”

Mr. Hibbard may also be inclined to sell his lot in the future. “He’s waiting for the right offer to come along and that hasn’t [come] yet,” Mr. Veirs said.

In the meantime, the city applied for $500,000 in grant funds from Metro for the property in 2014 for possible future development of the property.

The purpose of the grant, according to Mr. Veirs, is the cultivation of “transit-oriented development” which would compliment adjacent train systems, such as the Metrolink and the future Gold Line extension.

“We just completed the contract for the grant, which now starts the clock ticking so we now we have to deliver a specific plan for the site,” Mr. Veirs said.

Both projects were briefly mentioned in the 2016-17 budget report that was passed by the council during a special meeting on June 14.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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