Readers comments: February 11, 2022
Open letter to the City of Claremont’s Architectural Commission on the proposed development of South Village
I’m Pamela Casey Nagler, longterm resident of Claremont. I spent 20 years of my work-life in downtown Claremont—including 10 of them as an owner of a clothing store, SHRIMPS, where Pettisco’s is now located.
These past few years, I have been a strong proponent of the development of Village South. I saw it as a way to bring more affordable, right-sized, transit-oriented development with sustainable solutions to a blighted downtown area.
During these last few years, I was one of many who suggested that an occasional four or five-story building would enhance the project in terms of visual diversity, economic feasibility, energy sustainability and affordability, but I was not prepared to see what I see in this proposal—tall building after tall building with un-differentiated mass and facades. One of the developers, early on, suggested that unless there was the option of more height, the project ran the risk of looking like a flat layer cake – well, bingo! That’s pretty much the effect of this proposal—except with even more height. The buildings look too massive—monolithic and unarticulated—for the allotment of space.
Many of us, based on early discussion, had come to believe that architect Stefano Polyzeides’ work on the 12th Street facing of Scripps College along with the historic Vortox building were the aesthetic drivers of this project. (Stefano Polyzeides is an architect for Village Partners, one of the two development firms.)
However, in these renderings only one of the buildings, the building labeled Eco/Spanish/Deco bears any reference to these buildings that people in Claremont love—buildings that tap into Spanish/Mediterranean/Moorish style like our own city hall, post office, train station, the recent renovated old infirmary at the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at the Bernard Biological Field Station, Sycamore School, Casa 425, some of Pomona College’s older dorms on Sixth St.—along with others.
Frankly, the rest of the proposed buildings reference buildings that are not so loved in the region—including old industrial style buildings we associate with the East Coast and Midwest, So Cal warehouse buildings, generic modern urban 2020 housing styles that are now ubiquitous across the southland, with maybe a nod now and then to some fairly new medical buildings, like the dialysis center and others on Garey Ave. in Pomona.
I understand the city and the developers felt the need for eclecticism rather than strict adherence to one particular style, but I am seeing little innovation here and little to love. Too many buildings in this design portfolio resemble the new, horrific housing development on Bonita and Garey just outside of our city limits. None of us who supported this project were fighting for the rectangular big box building.
Pamela Casey Nagler
A hopeful story
I read the heartfelt and moving article by Mick Rhodes, “Court Clears Way for Sam’s Second Chance” in the February 4, 2022 issue of the Claremont COURIER. I have been following Sam Kraemer-Dahlin’s story in the COURIER during this last year (articles on June 25, 2021 and December 31, 2021) told by Mick Rhodes with Sam’s mother, Per Dahlin. As a former hospital chaplain on a mental health unit, I know how important it is to tell and hear the complexity of this story. The readers of the COURIER can better understand how persons who struggle with mental illness and addiction need a place where they won’t be judged so they can be ready to receive support and assistance. This is a hopeful story about Sam, who with his family and friends, have persevered to get treatment for Sam through the court system and the medical system while letting him take responsibility for his own life’s choices. Thank you for continuing to report on this ongoing story of courage and possibility.
A “second chance”
Thank you for the article entitled “Court Clears the Way for Sam’s Second Chance.” How well I remember the initial article regarding the same young man. Your writing is so full of understanding for both Sam and his mother, Per. What a journey, yours, theirs and ours. You have given all of us in the Claremont community a precious gift, a “second chance.”