Construction starts at Peppertree to delight of residents, businesses

Residents and tenants have never been more pleased to see construction. If you can’t fathom the enthusiasm, just talk to those of south Claremont, who have been eagerly awaiting the redevelopment of Arrow Highway and Indian Hill Boulevard’s Peppertree Square Shopping Center for years.

To the delight of those who have been waiting, the patience—or perhaps the lack thereof—has finally paid off. The fences are up around the shopping center and construction has begun. In about 6 months’ time, city officials say Claremont residents will have a newly renovated shopping destination.  

“The renovation is moving forward and we are absolutely thrilled,” said City Manager Tony Ramos.

Plans for the revitalization of the Peppertree shopping center began several years ago, with a Walgreen’s Pharmacy slated for occupancy within the center. Soon after, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market also signed on to the project.

Though the project seemed to be moving along accordingly, it soon proved to be a source of many frustrations for the city. Plans began to fizzle in late spring of 2010 when Walgreen’s pulled out of the deal. Fresh & Easy maintained its resolve to stay in the center, and the center’s redesign with Fresh & Easy as the anchor was approved in July 2011. However, frustrations mounted again when Fresh & Easy pulled out of the nearly shovel-ready project last June as economic troubles ensued for the grocer.

Adding to difficulties with the center was the fact that the complex’s owners were not from the area, so review forms and permits needed to be sent back and forth from China. However, the city’s commitment to redevelopment remained steadfast, and last September Claremont residents finally saw changes to the center when the corner building, once home to Wherehouse Music, was demolished.

The latest change, taking place now, is the re-grading of the parking lot and making room for 2 potential anchors to the center, potentially grocers. In September, Nick Quakenbos, representing the center’s owners, said he was in talks with several markets similar in size to Fresh & Easy and Sprouts, but would not disclose any other information. Last week, Mr. Ramos said that now that renovations have begun, he expects to see some of those conversations “moving along a little quicker.”

Along with re-grading and creating pads for new tenants, the center will also get an architectural facelift. Local architect Paul Wheeler has been working on incorporating several new design changes, including adding raised and pointed rooftops as “focal points” to the existing buildings, inspired by the mountainscape to the north. He also plans to add creams and a variety of greens to the center’s color scheme along with green waving designs inspired by Mr. Wheeler’s view of the Chino Hills behind the shopping center. A covered patio area will be fixed near the set of buildings where Subway resides.

Though construction is expected to continue for many months ahead, pending weather, frequenters of Yum Yum Donuts or Subway do not have to give up their routine.

Peppertree Square businesses will remain open during construction. While parking will not be allowed within the center itself, there is parking available both to the rear and to the south of the complex.

—Beth Hartnett


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