Category: Gateway/Piazza

Gateway representative says project to finish in 2014

The Gateway Project finally broke ground last fall.

Written by KRISTY HSI, Associate Editor/ Published on February 21, 2014

After years of delay, The Gateway project is coming to life at the corner of Rosemead Boulevard and Las Tunas Drive.

The 76,000 square foot Mediterranean style project is planned to include commercial spaces nestled throughout four main buildings. The completed project will have room for retail, office, and restaurant spaces. There will also be a large parking lot.

“The estimated construction cost of the project is about $20, million,” Nassef Eskander, project manager, says.

According to Eskander, developer and owner Randy Wang secured funding last September and received construction permits from City Hall in October.

Since then, The Gateway has focused on the construction of its underground parking facility.

“We have completed 40 percent of the underground (subterranean) structure,” Eskander details. “It is anticipated that the underground parking will be completed by the end of March 2014 when above-deck buildings will start to be constructed.”

Eskander notes that the project is to be completed by the end of 2014. Tenant improvements will be made once leasing is determined.

The Gateway project has had a long and tumultuous history.

The developer and owner originally envisioned a mixed-use development known first as The Temple City Galleria and later as The Piazza Las Tunas. In 2006, the city approved the project (with a scheduled completion date in 2009), but Wang failed to start, likely due to a lack of funding.

After years of non-action, a legal dispute emerged between the developer and the city. Both parties eventually settled and the current Gateway project, a commercial only development, was born.

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Future of Gateway project remains a mystery

The Temple City Gateway project is said to be pushing forward, but not much progress is seen.

Written by KRISTY HSI, Assistant Editor and NATALIE JIN, Editor-In-Chief / Published September 13, 2013 

For the approximately last decade, as people drive by in their cars along the intersection of Rosemead Boulevard and Las Tunas Drive, they have seen a large plot of dirt in the corner. Locals would reminiscence of Edwards Theatre that had stood upon this lot, and more nonlocal passers-by wonder, “How much longer will the dirt patch be here?”

Unfortunately, the answer to both these curious commuters and local residents still remains unrevealed, as neither the city of Temple City nor the Temple City Gateway developer have released further info about the timeline of the development.

Work on the $20 million project has been underway since February, 2011 when the Planning Commission asked for City Council’s approval of the project’s zone change, conditional use permit, and subsequent mitigated negative declaration. On March 15, 2011, the City Council held a public hearing to consider the required entitlements and made a motion to approve the zone change. It finally adopted all final planning entitlements on April 5, 2011.

From then on, the progress of the Gateway Project has been entirely unknown. City Hall has also offered little information regarding the project, redirecting all inquiries to Randy Wang, the private owner and developer of the project. Wang has also been silent in revealing the project, as any inquires about the funding, deadlines, or further progresses have been rejected.

The Temple City Gateway, the biggest retail development to occur in Temple City in over 20 years, is what is formally taking place in this empty desert of dirt. Its development plan proposes a 7,500 square feet shopping center that has four buildings featuring a retailer, many different restaurants, office space, and a large parking lot. The building designs will have an “elegant Mediterranean” architectural style, and the tower element of the plan will be flanked by two restaurant pads and an outdoor plaza at the corner of Rosemead Boulevard and Las Tunas Drive. The outdoor plaza will feature creative landscaping designed to transition into the intersection of the streets and integrate the public sidewalk with the project site.

As promising as these details sound in regards to the final Gateway Project, what now stands behind the forest-green construction fence remains only pile of dust, and the unspoken secrets of its planning.

The Gateway Developer Plans to Relocate Underground Utilities This Summer

Project will open to public in 2014: senior project manager.

Written by TIFFANY KHA / Published August 24, 2012  

The developer of The Gateway plans to begin a new phase for his project, according to a senior representative.

Howard Poyourow, the senior project manager, informed the city council on June 5, 2012, that Randy Wang plans to relocate underground utilities this summer. The work to relocate electrical, sewer, storm drain, gas, and water utilities, will be finished in August.

The senior project manager also laid out a revised timeline for the Gateway.

Above ground construction begins early 2013, while “tenant improvement” construction starts in the fall. Doors will open to the public in January 2014.

Suzie Koo, the developer’s real estate broker, also provided an update on tenant recruitment, stating that “People are very interested at the site.”

The developer has received nine to 10 letters of interest, including those from a bank, a restaurant, a spa, and a dentist. She also named Souplantation, Mimi’s Café, BJ Brewery, Buffalo Wild Wings, Olive Garden, as national restaurants the developer was soliciting. Additionally, Ms. Koo noted that the developer was securing a lease agreement with a nationally-recognized grocer.

After the updates on construction and tenant recruitment, Mr. Poyourow gave an update on the project’s financial situation. “We have 22 investors with their funds in escrow, at $500,000 per investor,” he said. “We expect more to come in very soon.” That figure, which contrasts with the city manager’s January statement that the developer had secured 23 investors, means the developer has $11 million, or half of what he needs for the completion of the project.

However, Mr. Poyourow stated, “We feel increasingly secure, month by month, day by day.”

City Manager Jose Pulido said the developer’s investment was a “great thing” and expressed confidence that financing for the project would be secure once tenant letter of intents were received. “It’s been a total team effort,” Mr. Pulido said.

A $20 million project, the Gateway at Temple City, is being developed as a 75,000 square foot Mediterranean-style retail, office, and shopping center at the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard.

Kang-Smith Urges Voters to Approve School Bond

The superintendent answers questions about the general obligation bond.

Written by ALBERT CHEN and AMY FAN / Published August 10, 2012 

Last month, the school board decided to place a bond measure on the ballot, which if voters approve in November will lead to major renovations throughout the Temple City Unified School District.

The $129 million bond will levy a new tax on property owners.

“I believe it is $58 per $100,000 of assess value,” responded Superintendent Chelsea Kang-Smith. “Temple City’s average assess value is $200,000. On average it will cost tax payers $116.”

The tax, though hefty, will benefit the schools a lot, the superintendent said.

“We definitely want to improve and update facilities. We definitely want to focus on improving technologies and also assisting health and education facilities and expanding on programs such as performing arts,” said Kang Smith.

As for the 1998 bond, it will still be in place.

“It was a 24 million dollar bond. I believe it will last about the same time as the new bond, which is 25 years.”

According to the Los Angeles County of Education, as of June 2011, the school district had $18.6 million in existing bond obligations for the 1998 bond.

Kang-Smith, along with the other school board members, urge the voters to think carefully about the benefits of the bond.

“Our schools are in need to upgrade and modernize. We really need to upgrade facilities in all aspects, such as air conditioning, heating systems. Most of our schools were built in the 40s or 50s, and many of them have not been modernized.”

According to Kang-Smith, this bond will be up to the residents of Temple City Unified School District, and will only apply to them.

“It will be one of the propositions or measures on the ballot. It will only affect residents within the TCUSD boundaries,” said Kang-Smith.

Voters will weigh in on November 6.

Early 2012 Groundbreaking Still Scheduled for The Gateway

City Council rejects city manager’s proposal to send Chavez abroad.

Written by VINCENT WEI / Published June 1, 2012 

A highly anticipated groundbreaking for The Gateway project will still take place early this year, according to City Hall.

“The developer is on schedule to have a groundbreaking ceremony in late February or early March of this year,” Community Development Director Steve Masura wrote in the January 20, 2012 city manager’s report.

Mr. Masura also noted that building plans for the project are “in plan check” with the city.

The Gateway, to be built at the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard, is being developed by Randy Wang as a 75,000 square foot Mediterreanean-style retail, office, and shopping center.

The developer plans to finance his $20 million project with 40 investors, each giving $500,000. Having secured approval from the federal government for EB-5 immigrant investor status, Mr. Wang has directed his attention to Chinese investors.

Since October 2010, the developer has raised $11.5 million from 23 investors, according to City Manager Jose Pulido.

The city manager, who has been forceful with bringing economic development to the community and positive changes to City Hall, has been focusing his time on The Gateway and the Rosemead Boulevard Beautification Project. Mr. Pulido is hoping that construction for the two major projects would go hand-in-hand to minimize the construction’s impact on residents.

However, at the January 17 city council meeting, the city manager’s proposal to send Councilmember Tom Chavez to China was denied.

Acknowledging that his proposal was a “sensitive topic,” the city manager expressed that it was his goal do whatever he could to move The Gateway project forward.

“It would be in the City’s best interest to make a minimal investment to have [Councilmember Tom Chavez] attend the upcoming EB-5 workshops in Shanghai and Nanjing, China, with a goal of securing the remaining EB-5 investors need to fully fund this important $20 million project in a down economy,” he wrote in a staff report.

Only a minority on the city council supported Mr. Pulido’s proposal, which would have cost the city $3000 to $4000 for air fare, hotel, and meal expenses.

A majority composed of Councilmembers Cynthia Sternquist, Fernando Vizcarra, and Vincent Yu disagreed, citing various reasons.

“By sending in one of our local officials, it’s almost as if we’re backing it and we’re guaranteeing it,” Ms. Sternquist said.

Mr. Yu agreed, stating that it could be “sending too strong of a message” of City Hall’s support. The councilmember also noted that the investors, due to cultural reasons, may perceive that sending the mayor abroad is tantamount to the project being endorsed by the city.

Councilmember Chavez, who spoke last, shared his reasons for going, including for moving the project forward.

“I would travel to China purely as an ambassador for our city,” he said.

After everybody had spoken, Councilmember Blum made a motion to approve the city manager’s proposal. The motion failed because no other councilmember, including Mr. Chavez, seconded.

Pulido: $1.5 Million Secured for The Gateway

The third groundbreaking is expected in early 2012.

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published April 20, 2012

Developer Randy Wang has secured $1.5 million for his Gateway project, according to City Manager Jose Pulido.

Three investors fully committed $500,000 each to support the $20 to $24 million project, the city manager reported on the November 3, 2011.

In addition, 16 investors are in the process of making their own commitments of half a million dollars each. Eight have “seriously expressed interest” and are “reviewing their options,” Mr. Pulido stated.

Mr. Wang is hoping to attract 40 to 48 investors. The developer has directed his attention toward Chinese investors to finance the Gateway, now that his project is part of the federal government’s EB-5 immigrant investor project.

“It is important to note that participants are making a major investment, not like purchasing a home or business, but many times more complex. This heightened complexity results from the fact that foreign investments must satisfy the oversight demands of at least two sovereign nations, each of whom is adamant about homeland security, immigration, economic well-being, etc.,” the city manager wrote.

The Gateway, to be built at the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard, is proposed as a 75,000 square foot Mediterranean-style retail and office center. Four buildings will be constructed to replace the vacant land, which was formerly a site for a theater and office building.

According to Mr. Pulido, a groundbreaking for The Gateway is scheduled for February 2012. That would be the third, including the two previous ones for the Piazza Las Tunas or Piazza at Temple City project.

Additionally, Mr. Pulido noted that city plan check of construction documents should be completed by November 15.

Meanwhile, the Pasadena Star News in October reported that former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson is filing an appeal of her bribery and corruption convictions related to the Piazza corruption scandal. Ms. Wilson is being represented by attorney Stuart Faber.

Wilson Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

The former Temple City mayor breaks down in court, goes to a Los Angeles hospital for treatment.

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published February 10, 2012 (ONLINE ONLY)

Cathé Wilson is going to prison.

The former Temple City mayor was sentenced on Thursday, June 23, 2011 to a four-year prison term. Ms. Wilson, who was elected by voters to the city council four times, was convicted last month of bribery and perjury charges in regards to the Piazza corruption scandal.

According to the Pasadena Star News, as the judge announced Ms. Wilson’s sentence, she broke down. An ambulance later transferred the ex-councilmember to Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.

In addition, Ms. Wilson will need to pay developer Randy Wang $10,000 in restitution fees. The developer is currently working with the city on his re-conceived The Gateway project.

In April, prosecutors laid out a case against the former councilwoman, naming her as the ringleader. One week later, the trial concluded and a jury convicted Ms. Wilson on several counts of bribery and perjury.

Ms. Wilson was supposed to have received her sentencing on June 2, but the county failed to issue a probation report as required by law. As a result, Ms. Wilson’s sentencing was postponed.

While the former mayor received a four-year prison term, she could have faced a maximum of nine years in prison. However, the prosecutor only asked for a four-year term.

The sentencing of former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson signals the conclusion of a dark chapter in Temple City history.

The Piazza scandal led to two resignations from the city council in 2008 and 2009, as well as the defeat of Ms. Wilson during her re-election bid in 2009.

Another former mayor pled no-contest to charges against her last year and was recently released from prison.

Three Investors Express Interest In The Gateway

City Manager: An investor has already committed to the project.

Written by AMY FAN / Published January 20, 2011

A foreign investor has already committed to The Gateway project, City Manager Jose Pulido on Thursday announced.

The unnamed investor deposited half a million dollars into an escrow account, he stated in the May 26, 2011 city manager’s weekly report.

Mr. Pulido also noted that he met with a second potential investor on Thursday.

“Within only a couple of weeks, Mr. Wang and his colleagues…have secured three preliminary funding commitments,” the city manager wrote.

The Gateway project, formerly the Piazza at Temple City, was approved by the city council on April 5.

Developer Randy Wang has proposed a 75,000 square foot Mediterranean-style retail and office center. The $24 million project, which sits at the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard, will be made of four buildings, an architectural element, and 331 parking spaces.

Mr. Wang is tentatively planning a ground breaking for February 2012.

Now that The Gateway is recognized as part of the federal government’s EB-5 immigrant investor program, the developer is trying to attract foreign investors to finance his project.

“The team is confident that they can capture 48 investors to cover a majority of the project’s total $24 million price tag,” Mr. Pulido affirmed.

While The Gateway project progresses along, the conclusion of the Piazza corruption scandal draws nearer.

Earlier this month, former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson was convicted by a jury on several counts of bribery and perjury charges. She is expected to be sentenced next month.

Another mayor is also serving a 16-month sentence in state prison.

Jury Convicts Ex-mayor Wilson

Former mayor to be sentenced on June 2

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published January 13, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY) 

After a week-long trial, a jury convicted former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson of six counts bribery and perjury charges.

The widely anticipated court case, which began in downtown Los Angeles on April 26, 2011, featured several key witnesses. Among those included the former Piazza project manager, the Piazza (now Gateway) developer, as well as Wilson and her friends.

The former councilwoman, who was accused of soliciting $10,000 in bribes from developer Randy Wang, maintained her innocence prior to and during the trial.

The prosecutor, deputy district attorney Sean Hassett, used audio recording from Wilson herself (which she denied), former project manager Jay Liyanage, and the developer to present his case.

On the second day of the trial, Liyanage broke down as he testified about his role: giving Wilson $30,000 in cash and acting as a liaison between Wilson and Wang.

Developer Randy Wang also took the stand. Wang spoke about his role, as well as former Mayor Judy Wong’s involvement.

In her own defense, Wilson argued that the contribution she received was considered a personal loan. She also denied asking for a condo from the Piazza project.

A minister and friend even testified on Wilson’s character as part of her defense, which was led by attorney Bob Wilson.

Following closing arguments, the jury delivered a guilty verdict on Tuesday, May 2. Wilson will be sentenced in June.

She may be given a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison.

The end of the trial closes a dark chapter in Temple City history, which led to two resignations from the City Council. Another former mayor is also currently serving a 16-month sentence for her role in the scandal.

Developer Now Marketing The Gateway

The Gateway project received final approval on April 5th.

Written by AMY FAN / Published December 16, 2011  

The city manager on Thursday announced that developer Randy Wang has commenced a global marketing effort for The Gateway project.

“The development team instructed its representatives here and abroad to start worldwide market of The Gateway project’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program,” Jose Pulido stated in his April 14, 2011 city manager’s weekly report.

A website highlighting the development will soon be available, the city manager also said.

Pulido noted that the restaurant and retail industry continues to show interest in the project.

The latest include Ross Stores and Buffalo World Wings Grill and Bar. In addition, the developer’s team previously mentioned that an independent grocer, Best Buy, Howards, Souplanation, Mimi’s Café, and Olive Garden were interested. Wang has already secured a letter of intent from Chipotle.

The marketplace is open to The Gateway project, according to Wang’s commercial broker.

“The project, especially in its current incarnation, is well received from the marketplace,” Armando Aguirre said on March 15.

The Gateway project is being proposed as a 75,000 square foot Mediterranean-style shopping and dining center. In addition to spaces for retail and restaurant, the developer plans to build office spaces.

The project will consist of four buildings, 331 parking spaces, and an architectural tower element.

With final approval of the project on April 5, the developer is now entering the design development and construction documentation phase. A ground breaking has tentatively been planned for February 2012.

Meanwhile, a corruption trial for former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson will likely begin soon. The former city official is being charged with several counts of bribery and perjury over her role in the Piazza scandal.

Wilson is being accused of receiving $10,000 in bribes from the developer’s former project manager. On March 24, she reiterated her innocence in an interview with the Pasadena Star News.

The fallout from the Piazza corruption scandal has led to two former city officials resigning from the City Council. A former mayor stepped down in 2009, while another former mayor is serving a 16-month sentence in state prison.