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Parking lot considered for former Rich Foods site

The empty, fenced-off lot across the street from the Packing House could become a parking lot.

The news comes from Director of Community Development Brian Desatnik, who said that the lot, if approved by the city, would be a temporary placeholder for the Village Lofts development that is now put on hold.

The Village Lofts is planned as a multi-story mixed-use project with 74 one- and two-bedroom apartments, retail space and on-site parking located at the former Rich Products building, which was torn down in June 2015.

Mr. Desatnik said the developer, Los Angeles-based Denley Investments, indicated their need to postpone development about a month ago. The idea of building a parking lot came up shortly after.

“I think it came up in a joint conversation we had where they expressed their need for time before they start construction,” Mr. Desatnik said. “We talked about interim uses, so that’s when parking came up.”

Denley said only that it was too uncomfortable with the current market to move forward with the project.

“They didn’t give a lot more explanation to me other than they didn’t feel the market was where they needed to be to start the project,” Mr. Desatnik said.

The possible alternative, first relayed by Mr. Desatnik to the Claremont Planning Commission Tuesday night, is to create a temporary parking lot until development starts again.

One major caveat stands in the way—the Village Expansion Specific Plan (VESP), which allows only for permanent parking lots, not temporary ones. An amendment to the plan would have to be recommended by the planning commission and approved by the city council.

Mr. Desatnik told the commission the parking rules in the VESP were “strange” and questioned whether it was an oversight when the plan was created. He did not offer a timetable of when the parking lot plan would be presented to the city, adding that they were still evaluating whether or not the lot was “the best approach on this.”

He had no estimate as to when the project would start up again.

“We’ll be trying to get that from [Denley],” Mr. Desatnik said.

A call to Denley Investments by the COURIER was not returned.

The latest halt is yet another delay to development at the lot. Construction was supposed to begin in August 2015 and would have been the final piece of the Village West puzzle, according to previous COURIER reports.

Mr. Desatnik told the newspaper in June of this year that the project could be completed some time in 2018, possibly even sooner.

This is the second housing project to be delayed in Claremont this year. William Lyon stopped construction on their Meadow Park development at Towne Avenue and Base?Line Road in February of this year. They broke ground on the project in early 2015 and had nearly completed two showcase homes before putting the project on hold because of what they consider an unsteady market.

The city met several times this year with William Lyon, giving the homebuilder an ultimatum to either finish the project or tear it down. Earlier this month, City Manager Tony Ramos said that an agreement with William Lyon was being finalized to complete the project.

“Our residents will hopefully see within the next two weeks the project moving to completion,” Mr.?Ramos said at the September 13 council meeting.

For now, there is no concrete timetable for a start or finish date on either project.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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