THE REAL DIRTT ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Several New Projects Make La Verne Shovel Ready

January 15, 2017
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The way that people in La Verne are going to work, shop, shelter, study, dine, drive, commute, recreate and seek medical service could significantly change in upcoming years if development in the city continues at its current pace.

Here is an overview of many of the key developments now underway in the City. To help us navigate them, LaVerneOnline sat down with La Verne Development Director Hal Fredericksen.

Gilead Sciences

If you haven’t traveled south of Arrow Highway in a while, you’re in for a big surprise – big because the international, research-based biopharmaceutical company, whose portfolio of drugs includes treatments for HIV/AIDS, liver diseases, cancer, inflammatory and respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular conditions, is building a roughly 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on land once owned by the Metropolitan Water District.

The first phase of the construction is expect to be completed this summer, but it will likely be another 18 to 24 months before some expected 400 to 500 employees hang their clean room smocks there. That period of time is needed to test and validate all of the highly technical systems and processes vital to the integrity of drugs that will be manufactured on site. “The end result might be a little white pill, but the process to get there is quite phenomenal,” Frederickesen said, adding that if just one door in a clean room were accidently opened, contaminating a manufacturing process, Gilead could lose $1 million.

The economic benefit to Gilead’s coming to La Verne will be large, not only in the form of property taxes paid by the super pharma-company, but via the spending power of its employees whose average salary will be $75,000 a year. “These are people who tend to want to live and shop in the community,” Fredericksen noted.

As part of the Gilead project, Wheeler Avenue will extend south to Puddingstone Drive, which will change how at least some in La Verne connect with the San Bernardino 10 interstate. “This will be a fairly significant change to two important arterial streets in La Verne,” Fredericksen said.

Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts Farmers Market, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country, will soon finish construction at 1375 Foothill Boulevard, where the former Stein Mart retailer used to operate, and is scheduled to open on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 a.m.

La Verne shoppers will find an abundant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and barrels of wholesome grains, nuts and sweets in a bright, open store layout. Each store features an in-house butcher who prepares hand-crafted sausages daily and assists customers with special cuts of meat and seafood seasoning. Shoppers will also enjoy a variety of fresh and prepared deli items ideal for lunch or dinner, a wide selection of fresh-baked goods and craft beer and wine. The Vitamin and Body Care department features more than 7,500 cutting-edge products made with sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients.

The opening of Sprouts will bring more than 100 full-and part-time career opportunities to La Verne. Positions include: Department Managers, Assistant Department Managers and Clerks (Grocery, Produce, Deli, Meat, Bakery, Vitamins and Body Care and more) Cashiers, Courtesy Clerks and more.

To learn more about available career opportunities or to apply, visit or call 1-866-925-2396 for non-managerial roles. In 2015, Sprouts’ team members saved more than $8 million through store discounts and received more than $1.5 million in additional incentives and scholarships.

To put its size in some perspective, the new 30,000-square-foot store will be larger than the Sprouts location in Claremont, but not nearly as large as a typical Von’s or Costco.

Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center

In an effort to expand its level of service throughout the valley community, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center will build a satellite outpatient facility in the former Marshalls building at the northeast corner of Fruit Street and Foothill Boulevard. The more than 28,000-square-foot facility will offer urgent care, physical therapy, a host of scanning services, and even a therapy pool. Its physicians will be able to perform on-site surgeries that won’t require overnight stays.

StoneCreek Co., a Rancho Santa Margarita firm, will own and develop the $6 million facility while substantially upgrading the aging shopping center’s infrastructure and curb appeal.

The satellite could employ up to 70 people and serve 400 patients a day, bringing new economic activity to the center that saw Marshalls abandon the site five years ago in favor of its current Towne Center location on the south side of Foothill.

Attracting Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center reflects the new reality of economic development in La Verne and other cities that face the challenge of filling departing big-box retailers with new tenants. “We have a very hard time filling big box stores,” Fredericksen admitted. “It’s a fact of life that there are fewer stores in any category, retailers like Sport Chalet, Office Max and others, to come in and take their place. It’s a different kind of solution.”

As part of the deal, StoneCreek will pay a sales tax in-lieu fee of $15,000 for 14 years, one year after occupancy begins.

Another positive is La Verne gains access to medical care that has been largely absent in the city. Currently, most La Verne residents seek medical services in Pomona, Glendora or Upland, where there are local hospitals.

Gold Line and Measure M

With the passage of Measure M in November, the Gold Line is expected to arrive in La Verne in 2025, with construction likely to begin late next year.

The La Verne station will be located north of Arrow Highway and east of E Street, between the University of La Verne and Fairplex. The station will be a center platform station, with tracks on either side. Entrance to the station will be from both E Street and the future 600-space parking facility. Accommodations for bus, bike and pedestrian amenities will also be provided.

Besides local residents who want to use the light rail to connect to Pasadena, Los Angeles and points beyond, clear early winners in the coming transit boon are Fairplex and the University of La Verne, which will become much more accessible to students and visitors.

Transit-oriented development will spring up around the La Verne station, with one development project already under review by the city (see below). A transit bridge crossing Arrow Highway is also under consideration, which could link to more mixed-used projects that could rise as high as six stories.

Accordingly, property values, especially in the most strategically positioned sites, are expected to travel in only one direction: northward!

University of La Verne Master Plan and Proposed New Residence Hall

The University’s master plan shows a steady growth trajectory over the next 30 years. To accommodate this growth, some of the university’s older residence halls will be moved to make way for a new five-story residence hall.

Even after Gilead goes online, the University is expected to remain the city’s largest employer.

The former Garden Square location still has an “A” posted at its entrance.

Foodie Cube Restaurant

Strangely, the owners of Foodie Cube Restaurant in Pasadena have been leasing the former Bakers Square/Garden Square location at the northeast corner of Foothill Boulevard and Wheeler Ave. for several years, with construction yet to begin on their health-oriented, Japanese-inspired bento box restaurant.

According to Fredericksen, construction plans have been approved and a contractor has been hired.

“They could come in and pull their permits and start construction tomorrow, but that hasn’t been their M.O.,” Fredericksen said.

As I work at Morgan Stanley at the corner of Lake Ave. and Colorado Boulevard, within steps of the Pasadena Foodie Cube, I’ll drop in for lunch and do some intel. Stay tuned to a future LVO Update for my review.

Micky’s Jewelry

Micky’s Jewelry, the well regarded retailer in the Orchard Supply center on Foothill Boulevard, is packing up and moving downtown into the former Generations Antiques space on D Street. “Old town will help her business and she will help old town,” Fredericksen said.

Tenju Tea House

This restaurant did not appear on Fredericksen’s list, but at one time it was rumored to be going into Gina T Interiors’ old space on D Street. There just hasn’t been enough movement to satisfy Fredericksen that a La Verne opening is still in the works. Currently Tenju Tea House has a restaurant in Temple City, Calif. We shall see!

Not even the rain and resulting mud appear to be any match for the new wave of residential development in La Verne.

Residential Development

La Verne isn’t quite built out, but it’s getting close. About this time last year, developer Lewis Homes announced it was pulling up stakes on a proposal to develop Marshall Canyon Golf Course, Los Angeles County-owned land that it wanted to secure in exchange for its interest in Sierra La Verne Country Club. In the swap, the county would have taken over operations at Sierra La Verne. Give Lewis credit for creativity because both golf courses are currently losing money and give La Verne residents credit for coalescing to preserve the iconic Marshall Canyon golf course and its open spaces. “We have great respect for the residents of this community and what they want to see happen,” Fredericksen said.

There has been talk that money (as much as $8 million) has been set aside to upgrade Marshall Canyon, but Fredericksen said he’s been taking a cautious approach until he actually sees the money. At the same time, golf is seen as a sport in decline, so all golf course owners and operators, both public and private, face financial challenges that will require creative solutions, including converting Sierra La Verne into a housing tract.

Despite the demise of the Lewis proposal, pockets of residential development are moving forward:

City Ventures “Emerald Collection”

At the southeast corner of Baseline and Emerald, 19 single-family homes are under construction. For many years, the acreage had been slated to become a church. The executive-style homes (more home than yard) will fall into the $800,000 to $1 million range.

Meritage “Creekside Development”

Meritage will comprise 22 single-family homes along San Dimas Canyon Road (in La Verne) adjacent to San Dimas Canyon Golf Course. The development has been carved out of the former Sturrock cut-your-own Christmas tree farm, which once supported 12,000 fast-growing Monterey pines before Sturrock was eventually put out of business by cheaper pre-cut trees from Washington and Oregon that began flooding the lots of local Targets and Home Depots.

Those houses are going for $1.5 million, even pushing $2 million, according to Fredericksen. As a result, La Verne’s median and mean housing prices look poised to climb.

Partial realignment of Golden Hills Road also is part of the construction project. Some of the homes have already been completed.

WF Development

The La Verne-based construction company has submitted an application to build 40 transit-oriented apartments at First Street and G Street, near the Gold Line Station. It is the opening salvo in what will likely become a battle for the new pot of gold that Gold Line and its adjacent real estate offers ambitious developers.

Business Development

In 2016, La Verne welcomed 88 new businesses to town, compared to 54 in 2015, dropping the vacancy rate to 6 percent along the Foothill Boulevard corridor. Fredericksen said he prefers these times much more than the two recessions he has worked through.

For all you real estate needs from La Verne to La Canada, give Sotheby’s Int’l Realtor (DRE#01013172) Coll a Call at 626.344.0907


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