Renewed skepticism and tension clouded the Piazza at Temple City development team after a surprising update revealed that the project had not secured funding as was previously stated.
On Tuesday, November 4, Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Executive Director Charles R. Martin noted that City staff and the Piazza representatives had met last Wednesday, October 29, 2008.
During that meeting, the Piazza development team was prepared to go ahead with a major retail center, that no major changes were planned for the retail portion, and that the Venetian-styled design would remain intact. In addition, the project will not have any residential condominiums or apartments, nor will there be a hotel.
Howard Poyourow, the third project manager for the Piazza, agreed with Martin’s statements. However, talks with the CRA bubbled after Poyourow stated Randy Wang, the developer, had not locked in funding.
CRA Chairman Cathé Wilson stated the Agency desired for the project to be complete, but had understood that Wang had guaranteed funding in a statement he made two weeks ago.
Poyourow responded that it was not possible to obtain funding until the Piazza development had a final set of building plans.
The development team stated Phase 2 of project had been submitted for approval and that Phase 1, the parking lot structure is about 90% complete.
The Piazza team had planned to add an additional floor or two of above ground parking in lieu of underground parking. In order for that to occur, Assistant Executive Director Joe Lambert noted, in a memo dated November 4, the height of the parking structure “would go from approximately 45 feet high to 55 feet high.”
“I know that raising the height would bring up several issues, so I will urge them to keep it at or less than 45 feet, either by reducing commercial square footage, or by having some underground parking spaces, or by broadening the above ground parking structure,” added Lambert.
CRA Agency Member Ken Gillanders reiterated his position on the need for the City to be re-compensated for the loss potential sales tax.
Pointing to past mishandling and loss of credibility, Agency Member Fernando Vizcarra inquired about the plan checks of the Piazza drawings.
Lambert confirmed the plan checks were moving forward, but that the plans in check were old. New checks would have to done based on submittal of any re-design, he added. A new project would also result in a new developer’s agreement, noted Lambert.
Criticism was also aimed at the Temple City Chamber of Commerce for having met with the Piazza developer in October 2008.
Agency Member Gillanders decried the Chamber of Commerce’s decision to meet with Wang. Agency Member Judy Wong disagreed, asserting that the duty of the organization is to promote business in any means possible.
The Piazza at Temple City, formerly known as the “Temple City Galleria” and “Piazza Las Tunas”, must be complete by August 23, 2009, as stated in the Developer’s Agreement with the City. If the project is not finished, the City has the option to purchase the 3.7 acre site for $5 million.
The City of Temple City and Randy Wang are still in litigation over the project.
This article was written by Randy Shun. It was published in the Temple City Voice on February 27, 2009.