Piazza Project Stalled

This article is a continuation of last week’s “Council Halts Piazza Project” story.

After denying a name change from “Piazza Las Tunas” to “Temple City Spectrum”, the City Council moved to approve two additional changes, re-location of the banquet facility and removing the greenbelt initially proposed by the developers. Discussion continued over the five other proposed alterations at the special City Council meeting on September 25, 2007.

The idea of raising the height limits for several of the Piazza buildings caused a heated discussion among council members and the construction management firm, A & W Builders.

Councilmember Fernando Vizcarra, who was previous firmly opposed to the Piazza mixed-use development, stated that the only height increase he would be in favor of was for the banquet facility.

“We settled on 45 feet. That’s what we agreed upon then. That’s how I feel now” said Councilmember Dave Capra. He added, “I can’t make any findings in this particular thing to allow 47.5 feet when we knew from the very first date the agreement was drawn, 45 feet was the limit.”

“We had so much opposition when we started this” said Councilwoman Cathé Wilson and concurred with Councilmember Capra.

With opposition from three councilmembers, Mayor Pro Tempore Ken Gillanders suggested postponing the item. Mayor Judy Wong agreed.

Next on the agenda was the Venetian design aspect of the project. Although the developer was requesting for approval, drawings were not available for the Council to see.

“Like Councilmember Vizcarra said, we need to see the whole thing before we buy into it” said Councilman Capra.

Mayor Wong agreed, “We are asking for something we can see.”

Councilwoman Wilson moved to postpone the item for further discussion. The next item involved access routes for the project. By request of the construction management firm, the Council agreed to discuss access routes after dealing with the issue of a reduction in parking stalls.

“This [parking reduction change] would impact the whole neighborhood,” declared Councilman Capra. Councilwoman Wilson agreed.

Mayor Pro Tempore Gillanders added, “If indeed this project is successful, one of the major things you’re gonna find is that any decent banquet, and that banquet hall is going to attract an additional 200 cars minimum.”

Councilwoman Cathé Wilson then added, “We have to listen to our residents. You build this, you’re gone. We still live here.”

Despite the opposition from councilmembers, David Wilson noted that the number of parking stalls exceeds the requirements imposed by the City.

City Manager Charles Martin then asked if the number of parking stalls, 731, was an ultimatum made to the City Council. The Piazza team then backed down, “we need to have some direction.”

After much debate over the Piazza changes, the City Council moved to continue discussion during the third week of October.

During public comments, some residents urged the City Council to accept the changes, while others asked for more time to think over them.

“We need to have faith in the [Piazza management] people” said Linda Payne, a Temple City resident. “We have to be business friendly.”

 

This article was written by Matthew Wong. It was published in the Temple City Voice on December 19, 2007.

 

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