Opinion: Commercial Ideas to Turn Temple City Around

It is clear Temple City is an economic disaster, but it does not mean that our beloved city cannot be saved.

For years, the City of Temple City has faced a decline in tax revenues. There is an unbalance between the number of sales tax producing businesses coming in and the number of non-sales tax producing businesses. The future looks grim.

City Manager and City Attorney Charles Martin has warned time and time again of the economic crisis hitting Temple City. Because the city government runs on tax revenues generated by sales tax, Temple City is in trouble.

Last April, Martin alerted the Council that each resident was generating about $42 of tax annually, but the state average is $152, which means Temple City is getting $108 less per resident than what it is suppose to get. (See the Voice article, A Grim Forecast for Temple City 05-23-07)

If not the first, let me give you my prediction about the Piazza at Temple City: its death is imminent. It was a pernicious gamble by pinning our hopes to rebuild our sales tax revenues on a mixed-use development many residents had opposed.

Don’t listen to the people who say movie theaters are unpopular and are dying. Since the demise of our theater (deconstructed to make way for the nearly dead-stricken Piazza), Temple City has continued to lose out on revenues generated by the entertainment sector. The truth is we need a movie theater.

Temple City High School students, the bulk of whom are residents of Temple City, flock to Alhambra’s Edwards cinemas or Arcadia’s AMC theaters to catch the latest movie. Of course, there’s the Westfield Shopping Center.

A small movie theater with half stadium style seating and pre-21st century style seating would keep both the youth and senior citizens happy. Teenagers in Temple City need places to hang out with their friends, or go out on dates with their girl/boy friend. A movie theater could also give Temple City families something to do on the weekends with their young children. We must, if possible, control the pricing of the tickets, so that it is cost-effective.

What’s the ideal location for a movie theater in Temple City? The location of where a movie theater once stood, the corner of Las Tunas and Rosemead. Build a four or five screen cinema and surround it with restaurants and other small businesses to create a commercial-friendly environment. Theoretically, Jamba Juice, or Coldstone’s could move in, and therefore, make the destination a more “cooler” place.

Parking has been a problem for Temple City for years. You can hear the tenants and City Councilmembers complain all the time about the need for more parking. It’s true, we lack parking. Build a three-story parking structure near the TCUSD. Three levels above ground, one below. Consider building a smaller two-story parking structure on the western side of town.

With Black Angus out of Alhambra, perhaps, we could entice them to move to Temple City. The focus is to revitalize downtown with more mainstream American-style restaurants, such as, Corner Bakery, Islands, and Black Angus.

Finally, create an entertainment district. Construct a bowling alley and skating rink. Or, perhaps, put the two together, one location with both bowling and skating available to families and teenagers. I remember when I was in elementary school, our neighbor; San Gabriel had both a skating rink and bowling alley. Unfortunately, both disappeared over the years.

 “While most of the ideas were mine, some ideas were originated by the Commercial task force committee, private citizens, and former elected officials of Temple City. Please note: this is only the beginning. Even if any of these ideas becomes a reality, more work still needs to be accomplished.”

Matthew Wong is the Founder of the Temple City Voice, a former member of the Planning Commission – Commercial task force committee, and a 2007 graduate of Temple City High School. He currently is an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.

This opinion does not reflect the views of the Temple City Voice

1. Bring in a movie theater: Regal, AMC, small company
2. Encourage small businesses: Jamba Juice, Coldstone’s
3. Build a three-story parking structure: three levels above, one below
4. Invite restaurant-chains to come in: Black Angus, Corner Bakery
5. Create an entertainment district: bowling alley, skating rink

 

This opinion was published in the March 5, 2008 issue of the Temple City Voice.

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