Category: Gateway/Piazza

Gateway Project Secures Nod from City Officials

Final approval of The Gateway on April 5

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published December 16, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY)

Developer Randy Wang on Tuesday received tentative approval for The Gateway project.

The City Council voted 4-0 to approve his revised commercial center during the March 15, 2011 meeting. Mayor Fernando Vizcarra was absent.

A second and final authorization will take place on April 5, city officials stated.

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

The project will encompass four buildings, 331 parking spaces, and a “tower element.” The tallest building will be 39 feet.

Wang’s Gateway proposal is significantly toned down from his previous proposal, the Piazza at Temple City. The old project, which was approved in 2006, would have been a 125,000 square foot mixed-use development.

According to Howard Poyourow, senior project manager, the project will enter the design development and construction documentation phase once the City Council gives its final nod in April.

Armando Aguirre, commercial broker, also stated that progress was being made to attract “major national companies” to The Gateway.

The commercial broker stated that for the project to proceed, the developer needs to secure tenants for 60 percent of development.

However, he stated that many potential businesses, including an independent grocer, Best Buy, Howards, Souplantation, Chipotle, Mimi’s Café, and Olive Garden were interested in the project.

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

In response to a Councilmember Carl Blum, the senior project manager stated the developer “intends to explore green opportunities,” which will be determined during the construction phase.

Unlike the Piazza proposal, few residents have voiced opposition to The Gateway project.

Councilmember Vincent Yu, who opposed the Piazza as a planning commissioner, said the project was “vastly improved.”

“It’s not a mini-mall. It’s a project that we can feel proud of,” Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Chavez concurred.

The Gateway is being proposed on the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard.

The developer hopes to break ground in February 2012.

Temple City Bans Pot Dispensaries, Changes Fireworks Permit Process

No business will be allowed to sell marijuana, while new firework permits to be determined by lot.

Written by VINCENT WEI / Published December 9, 2011

Temple City officials on Tuesday introduced two ordinances that amend the municipal code.

The first ordinance permanently bans the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in Temple City. The second ordinance changes the procedure to obtain a permit to sell fireworks.

Ordinance 11-942 “prohibits all commercial medical marijuana dispensaries,” Community Development Manager Joseph Lambert stated during the March 1, 2011 city council meeting.

The new law, however, will not prevent medical marijuana patients from purchasing and using the substance.

“The draft ordinance was crafted to prohibit medical marijuana businesses, but will not infringe on the rights of qualified individuals to do otherwise,” Lambert said.

The ban on pot dispensaries in Temple City has technically been in place since April 2009 when the City Council adopted the first moratorium. Two extensions were later granted in June 2009 and most recently, last April.

Given that three temporary ordinances have already been adopted, Temple City could not adopt a fourth urgency ordinance, City Attorney Eric Vail stated.

“We really don’t have any other option,” he said. “We think this is the best and most defendable approach.”

While the federal government criminalizes the use of marijuana, whether it is for medical purposes or not, the state of California allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Vail stated that state law was still “muddy” over how cities who did not want pot dispensaries could respond.

Councilmember Carl Blum stated that “This is what needs to be done at this time.”

The vote to adopt the ordinance was 5-0.

The City Council also unanimously adopted Ordinance 11-943, which changes the procedure in which new fireworks permits are allocated.

City Attorney Vail said that previously permits were awarded on a “first come, first served” basis. The new ordinance changes the process into a lottery system.

Current city law allows up to 12 permits to sell fireworks. That will not change, Vail affirmed.

Both ordinances still require a second approval before they take effect.

 

Advisory Board Recommends Gateway Project for Approval

City Manager: City Council to review proposal in March

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published December 9, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY)

An advisory body has recommended approval of The Gateway project, the city manager on Thursday stated.

According to the city manager’s weekly report on February 24, 2011, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council approve a zone change and a conditional use permit, as well as adopt a subsequent mitigated negative declaration for developer Randy Wang’s project.

The City Council will now review the proposal on March 15, City Manager Jose Pulido stated.

Last month, the developer submitted his proposal to City Hall for review. He is working with city officials to secure approval of his project, which was formerly known as the Piazza at Temple City.

The developer has until March 31 to obtain City approval of his project. He must meet the federal government mandated deadline in order to solicit money from foreign investors as part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

As a result of the poor economy, Wang is seeking overseas investors who will give either $500,000 or $1 million to support his project. Once they participate, they will be eligible to receive a permanent U.S. residency visa.

The developer hopes to attract 40 investors, or raise $20 million, he previously noted.

The Gateway project is proposed to be a 75,000 square commercial shopping center with spaces for retail, offices, two restaurants, and a market. The development is located on the corner of Rosemead Boulevard and Las Tunas Drive.

Meanwhile, former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson is expected to return to court on March 8 for her last pretrial hearing. She will likely face a trial in a few weeks over allegations of bribery and perjury in regards to the Piazza project.

Wilson is being accused of receiving $10,000 in bribes from the developer’s former project manager. She has maintained her innocence.

The scandal that plagued the Piazza project has resulted in two former city officials resigning from the City Council. A former mayor stepped down in 2009, while another former mayor is currently serving a 16-month sentence in state prison.

 

Piazza Developer Submits Revised Proposal to City Hall

Planning Commission to review plans in February.

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published November 18, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY)

Randy Wang, the developer of the Piazza project, has submitted revised plans to City Hall for his new project, City Manager Jose Pulido on Thursday announced.

The City received the developer’s latest site plan and architectural drawings, according to Pulido.

“Staff is reviewing these plans in detail, and is on schedule to meet the proposed entitlement process prescribed in last week’s report,” he wrote in his January 20, 2011 weekly city manager’s report.

The city manager also stated that a Planning Commission meeting will conduct a public hearing on February 22 to review the developer’s plans. On March 15, the City Council will hold its own public hearing on the project.

Thus far, the developer is meeting the deadlines that Community Development Director Steve Masura set this month.

The Piazza project, now renamed the Temple City Plaza, is being proposed as an urban center. The plans include two restaurants, two retail pads, and a market. Second-story office spaces will also be available.

According to the developer’s team, a number of retail stores are interested in the project. They include Smart and Final and Trader Joe’s.

Last October, Wang successfully received the “California Pacific Group Regional” designation, which was granted by federal officials. The designation enables his project to be qualified as part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

If the developer receives City approval by March 31, he will be able to solicit foreign investors, who will give either $500,000 or $1,000,000. In exchange for their investment, they will be eligible to receive a permanent US residency visa.

At the January 4 city council meeting, Wang stated he hoped to attract 40 investors, or raise $20 million.

Wang’s Piazza project was originally approved in May 2006 and was widely expected to be built by August 2009. There is currently no deadline for the developer to comply by. However, the City will have the option to use eminent domain on his parcel in February 2015, according to City Attorney Eric Vail.

Piazza Developer Begins Entitlement Process for New Project

Wang’s team testified before the City Council for the first time in many months.

Written by VINCENT WEI / Published November 4, 2011

Newly hired Community Development Director Steve Masura on Thursday released a timeline for Piazza developer Randy Wang to complete the entitlement process for his new project.

The developer must receive City approval for his revised project, now known as the Temple City Plaza, by March 31 in order to receive assistance from foreign investors.

According to timeline, which Masura wrote in the January 13, 2011 weekly city manager’s report, a Planning Commission-led study session will be held on February 8. An official public hearing by the commission will be held on February 22 and the City Council is expected to conduct its own hearing on March 15.

Wang and his development team recently presented during the January 4 community redevelopment agency meeting.

Prior to Wang’s status update, the developer and his team had not attended a public meeting for many months.

Communication between Wang and the City froze after the developer in 2008 accused former city officials of bribery. Last February, relations were restored after the City and the developer settled on a civil lawsuit.

At the January 4 meeting, members of the developer’s team lavished praise on City Manager Jose Pulido for his support and the new “spirit of cooperation” between the City and Wang.

Howard Poyourow, senior project manager, Armando Aguirre, commercial broker, and Randy Wang presented and responded to questions from the City Council. Suzie Koo, the developer’s real estate broker, was also in attendance.

Wang’s current plan proposes an urban center that will include two restaurants, two retail pads, and space for a 35,000 square feet market. The developer is also planning to construct second-story office spaces.

Aguirre stated on January 4 that the developer’s team was in talks with Smart and Final and Trader Joe’s to discuss fill the market space for the Temple City Plaza. Alternatively, a Best Buy or Marshalls could occupy the space, he said.

The developer’s commercial broker also noted that they had received “unsolicited offers” from some retailers after they had placed a sign on the parcel and released marking information.

Last October, the developer successfully received the “California Pacific Group Regional” designation granted by the federal government as a part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. The designation allows the developer to attract foreign investors who will give either $500,000 or $1,000,000 in exchange for a permanent U.S. residency visa. In return, the developer is able to raise the funds to finance his Temple City Plaza project.

Wang hopes to attract 40 investors, or raise $20 million, he said on January 4 in response to a question by Councilmember Vincent Yu.

Grocery Store May be the New Piazza Project’s Major Tenant

City Manager: Store name will remain confidential until further progress is made

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published September 9, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY) 

A grocery store may be the Piazza property’s major tenant, City Manager Jose Pulido on Thursday said.

Representatives of a “high volume grocery store…[are] very interested in being the major tenant at the Temple City Plaza,” Pulido wrote in his October 28, 2010 city manager’s report.

However, the city manager noted he would not identify the business just yet.

“Since the discussions are in the preliminary stages, the name of [the] independent grocery store will remain confidential until we are sure that their footprint needs can be met at this location,” he said.

The city manager, who took over the reins at City Hall in October 2009, has been closely following the development of Piazza developer Randy Wang’s latest proposal. This past summer, Pulido provided a couple of updates regarding the progress of the project.

Wang’s latest plan appears to be an urban center that is approximately 67,500 square feet. The project includes two restaurants, outdoor dining areas, and two medium-sized retail pads.

The developer has assembled a development team that includes Armando Aguirre, a commercial broker, and Suzie Koo, a real estate broker.

Despite the work conducted behind the scenes, the Piazza property remains vacant. Wang’s property sits at the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard.

Wang’s original project was approved by the City Council in May 2006 and had been expected to be completed in August 2009.

Meanwhile, the fallout from Wang’s allegations of bribery continues.

Former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson returns to court on November 8. She is accused of demanding bribes from Wang in exchange for support of his Piazza project.

In addition, two city officials have resigned from the City Council. A former mayor stepped down in 2009, while another former mayor is serving a sentence of 16 months in state prison.

Pulido: Piazza Developer’s Broker Arranging Meetings with Retailers in San Diego

Former mayor sentenced to 16 months in prison; another ex-mayor awaits trial.

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published July 29, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY) 

The commercial broker for developer Randy Wang’s embattled Piazza at Temple City project plans to meet with a few retailers next week in San Diego, City Manager Jose Pulido on Thursday said.

Pulido, who took over the reins at City Hall in October 2009, provided the public with an update from Armando Aguirre, Wang’s commercial broker, in his September 16, 2010 weekly city manager’s report.

“Mr. Aguirre is in the process of coordinating several meetings with various potential retailers next week at the San Diego International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Western Division’s Deal Making workshop,” Pulido said.

An expert in redevelopment matters, Pulido also said he may join Aguirre in showcasing Temple City.

“There is a possibility that I will be attending these meetings to make a pitch to these retailers on why they should choose to conduct their business in Temple City,” he said.

The city manager and representatives of Wang’s development team met this summer to discuss a number of retail pursuit packages that a future Piazza project could include. The packages were a result of the Buxton Company’s contract with Temple City.

Currently, Wang’s plan appears to be an urban center that is approximately 67,500 square feet. The project includes two restaurants, outdoor dining areas, and two medium-sized retail plans.

Meanwhile, former Temple City Mayor Judy Wong was sentenced on September 10 to 16 months in state prison for her role in the Piazza corruption scandal. In addition, she was asked to pay $16,700 to Wang and more than $16,000 in fines and fees.

Wong will serve her time in state prison. She may exit prison sooner if she chooses to work.

Cathé Wilson, another former mayor, returns to court on November 8. Like Wong, Wilson is accused of demanding bribes from Wang in exchange for support of his original Piazza project.

Wang’s original project was approved by the City Council in May 2006 and was expected to be completed in August 2009.

Pulido Meets with Piazza Developer’s Broker

A meeting was held to discuss The Buxton Company’s retail packages.

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published July 1, 2011

A year after the Piazza at Temple City was to be completed, City Manager Jose Pulido is at work, trying to bring a new project forward.

The city manager, who took over the reins of City Hall last year, recently met with the Developer Randy Wang’s broker, Armando Aguirre.

“We reviewed a number of the ‘Retail Pursuit Packets’ prepared by the Buxton Company, which includes upscale restaurants, supermarkets, and other retailers that would be a fit for this project,” Pulido wrote in the August 19, 2010 weekly city manager’s report.

A meeting was arranged after Temple City received a new retail development strategy from the Buxton Company, a consultant the City hired this year.

Also in his August 19 report, the city manager laid out Randy Wang’s newest plan.

“This project would have two restaurant pads at the corner of Rosemead Boulevard and Las Tunas Drive, and three other retail pads that could accommodate a regional upscale supermarket with two other supporting and synergistic retailers,” he said.

More recently, Wang proposed two ideas for his project, a traditional strip mall and an urban center.

It appears the developer has settled on a revised version of his second plan. That plan called for an urban center that is approximately 67,500 square feet and includes two restaurants, outdoor dining areas, and two medium-sized retail pads.

Meanwhile, two former city officials continue to make news as one waits to be sentenced, while the other prepares for a trial.

Former Temple City Mayor Judy Wong faces a maximum sentence of 16 months in prison for her alleged role in bribing the Piazza developer. She pled “no contest” to a number of charges in May. Wong returns to court on August 24.

Another former mayor, Cathé Wilson, is still waiting to receive a trial for her alleged role in soliciting bribes and committing perjury. If convicted, Wilson could face nearly a decade in prison.

Randy Wang remains unscathed. His Piazza property continues to be vacant.

Wong’s Sentencing Is Postponed

She will return to court on August 24

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published June 24, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY) 

Former Temple City Mayor Judy Wong on Thursday received another month of freedom because the judge presiding over her case was unable to sentence her.

Patricia Schnegg, a Los Angeles superior court judge, was due to sentence Wong on July 22, 2010, but had to preside in another courtroom.

Wong’s sentencing will be delayed to August 24. She still faces a maximum of 16 months in prison.

The former city official in May pleaded “no contest” to ten felony charges for her alleged role in the Piazza at Temple City corruption scandal. Prosecutors did offer Wong a two-year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, but she turned them down.

She continued to maintain her innocence after stepping down from the City Council in March.

“I have no more money,” she said, in response to why her “no contest” plea by a Pasadena Star News reporter. “My bail bond expired.”

Another reason Wong may have entered her plea may be due to her elderly mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

She would have faced up to 12 years and eight months in prison if she went to trial and lost.

Meanwhile, former Temple City Mayor Cathé Wilson’s pre-trial hearing will likely be moved, the Pasadena Star News reported, because of Schnegg’s absence. Wilson is also charged with several felony counts of bribery and perjury involving the Piazza scandal.

The developer of the Piazza at Temple City, Randy Wang, remains unscathed and continues to work on his new proposals for the property on the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard.

Wang currently has two proposed ideas for his vacant land.

His first plan is similar to a traditional strip mall. The development would be 50,000 square feet and would include one restaurant.

Wang’s second plan is more like an urban center that is approximately 67,500 square feet. This development plan would include two restaurants, as well as outdoor dining areas. In addition, two medium-sized retail plans would be available.

City Manager Jose Pulido said he was trying to schedule a meeting with Wang over retail matches for his yet-to-be constructed development, but it was unclear whether a meeting had been held yet or not.

With a Retail Development Strategy, Pulido Plans to Arrange a Meeting with Piazza Developer

The City Manager hopes to provide Wang a retail match list.

Written by MATTHEW WONG / Published June 10, 2011 (ONLINE ONLY) 

City Manager Jose Pulido plans to schedule a meeting with Randy Wang, developer and owner of the Piazza at Temple City, soon.

Pulido, who took over as the leader of City Hall in October 2009, intends to use the information recently provided by economic consultant The Buxton Company to help Wang move forward on developing his property.

“We will be scheduling in the next week or so, a meeting between Randy Wang and his representatives and Lisa Hill from the Buxton Company to review with them the retail matches that could be a fit for this commercial retail property,” Pulido wrote in his weekly city manager’s report on July 15, 2010.

The Piazza developer, who returned from a major trade conference in May, currently has two proposed ideas for his vacant land on the corner of Las Tunas Drive and Rosemead Boulevard.

His first plan is similar to a traditional strip mall. The development would be 50,000 square feet and would include one restaurant.

Wang’s second plan is more like an urban center that is approximately 67,500 square feet. This development plan would include two restaurants, as well as outdoor dining areas. In addition, two medium-sized retail plans would be available.

The city manager hopes to provide the developer with some retail matches, based on The Buxton Company’s analysis, suitable to whatever future development may exist on Wang’s property.

“It is very important that we meet as soon as possible and most definitely before Mr. Wang makes commitments to any retail tenants for his property,” he said.

The Piazza property has remained vacant for almost four years. The developer first won approval for a proposed mixed-use project in May 2006, but has failed to bring his former plan into fruition.

A couple of years ago, Wang countersued the city of Temple City, alleging that city officials had bribed him.

As a result, a councilman resigned, former Mayor Judy Wong is awaiting sentencing on July 22, and former Mayor Cathé Wilson is awaiting trial on July 23. Wong pleaded “no contest” in May to a number of serious bribery charges.