For over thirteen months, residents of Temple City have wondered when the “Piazza Las Tunas” mixed-use development would be built. The Piazza, a project that has caused much controversy since the idea of the mini-mall on the site, where the Hawkins and Edwards property used to stand, first came about, has had one groundbreaking ceremony, but construction has not yet begun since approval.
At the June 19, 2007 City Council meeting, the developer and members of the Piazza’s construction management team proposed structural changes. The condominiums will be built of wood in lieu of concrete and light weight steel. The underground residential parking will be made with steel instead of concrete and the retail portion will be braced from steel construction in lieu of concrete.
According to a letter from the construction management firm, A & W Builders, to the City of Temple City, the changers were being made because the previous proposal “was not economically feasible for the developer to move forward with his construction financing.”
Councilmember Dave Capra asked whether the Piazza, formerly known as the “Temple City Galleria”, would be completed by the deadline set in the Developer’s Agreement. The deadline is August 23, 2009.
Members representing the Piazza stated that the deadline would be met.
When asked by Councilmember Fernando Vizcarra what the Piazza team had been doing for the previous twenty-two months, the team responded stating that the schematics had been completed. They noted that they had spent 6 – 8 months on the drawings.
The Piazza mixed-use development project was approved in May 2006, when the previous City Council voted unanimously to approve Ordinances 06-904 and 06-905. Ordinance 06-904 is the zone-change ordinance and 06-905 is the developer’s agreement.
A grassroots effort immediately formed to collect signatures for a referendum on the Council’s decision. A total of 1937 signatures were collected by residents including former and current City and School officials. Former Temple City Unified School Board Member Joan Vizcarra and other residents then presented the petitions to the City Clerk, who rejected them based on a “technicality.”
In June 2007, the former construction manager Jay Liyanage was fired and owner Randy Wang retained a new firm, A & W Builders.
A & W Builders and other members of the Piazza team are expected to deliver an assessment to the City Council in two to three months. The Council will then give a conditional thumb up or down to the team.
The Piazza mixed-use development is expected to generate about $800,000 to $1 million dollars worth of badly needed tax revenue.
Also being discussed was the awarding of $20,000 to the San Gabriel Valley Weekly for increased publication and advertising of Temple City information for six months. Councilmember Vizcarra was the sole opposition to the idea.
This article was written by Matthew Wong. It was published in the Temple City Voice on September 12, 2007.