Ground Zero of Fullerton Redevelopment Failure


For dyed-in-the-wool government apologists like Dick Jones, Jan Flory, Dick Ackerman, Sharon Kennedy, Don Bankhead, et al., Redevelopment blunders are conveniently overlooked, when possible; when not possible, some lame defense is mounted, such as: mistakes were made (passive voice obligatory) but we learned and moved on; hindsight is 20/20 (Molly McClanahan’s motto vivendi); the problem was not too much Redevelopment, but too little!

But when any reasonable person contemplates the collection of Redevelopment disasters along Harbor Blvd. between Valencia Drive and the old Union Pacific overpass, the only conclusion he or she could draw is that the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency should have been shuttered years ago, and the perpetrators of the manifest failures crowded onto a small raft and set adrift with the Japanese Current.

We have already described in nauseating detail the “Paseo Park” debacle; and the Allen Hotel fiasco; we haven’t yet had time to talk about the “El Sombrero” pocket park give away (we will).

But instead of wasting too many perfectly good words, we will share with you Friends a Redevelopment pictorial essay with just a little piquant commentary.

First there’s the strip center known as Gregg’s Plaza. Brick veneer, of course. Even the veneer is so disgusted it’s trying to jump off the building.

The standards of the RDRC were established early.

The standards of the RDRC were established early.

Pop goes the brick veneer...

Pop goes the brick veneer...

Across the street is the Allen Furniture Store. When they got their rehab loan somebody forgot to tell them that a storefront is a storefront – not a jailhouse. So why are there bars on the dinky little windows? And pink stucco?

Stone walls do not a prison make; nor iron bars a cage...

Stone walls do not a prison make; nor iron bars a cage...

Jumping back across the street we re-introduce ourselves to the egregious Allen Hotel, perhaps the biggest Redevelopment boondoggle of all, a mess that we have already admirably documented, here. As we noted then, the add-on was unspeakably awful (and expensive). The front is, well, pretty awful, too.

The once and present tenement...

The once and present tenement...

It could have been worse. Well, no, it couldn't...

It could have been worse. Well, no, it couldn't...

What was sold, in part, as an “historic preservation” project ended up violating just about every standard in the book. The original windows were ripped out and replaced with vinyl sashes; the transoms were destroyed and replaced with sheets of plastic and surface applied strips supposed to simulate leaded glass.

Just say something. They'll believe anything...

Just say something. They'll believe anything...

Across Harbor we discover the “El Sombrero Plaza,” another sock in the face to any Fullerton windshield tourist. Forget the stupidity of the sideways orientation and the Mission Revival On Acid stylings (which attain a kind of crazy Mariachi deliciousness); this development included the give away of part the adjacent public green space so they have parking for a restaurant. The owner never did develop a restaurant, of course (more on that story later).

Ay, caramba!

Ay, caramba!

The extra parking that was supposed to be for a restaurant is now used for a storage container!

The extra parking that was supposed to be for a restaurant is now used for a storage container!

And finally we come to exhausted collapse at another one of the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency’s low points. And by low point we mean the complete, unmitigated disaster of the Union Pacific Park, ably chronicled here; and in a whole series here, here, and here.

Maybe the less said, the better...

Maybe the less said, the better...

The poisoned park: dead as a doornail. An aesthetic, pratical, and policy disaster. And no one has ever stood up to take responsibility for the total waste of millions of dollars.

Embarrassing from the beginning. How many $100,000 pensioneers had their fingers in this pie?

Embarrassing from the beginning. How many $100,000 pensioners had their fingers in this pie?

Well, there you have it, Friends. Redevelopment in action; Redevelopment creating blight, not eradicating it. No accountability. None. Zero. Zilch. And some people wonder why FFFF has sued to keep Redevelopment from expanding.

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  1. #1 by Joe Sipowicz on November 30, 2009

    I hear ya, on this, but why not start at the 91 and go all the way to Angelo and Vinci’s?

    Actually, you guys already have. There isn’t a single block in this stretch that doesn’t have some example of Bozo architecture, screwed up finances, lost “investment,” or new blight and nobody accountable.

  2. #2 by Got heritage? on November 30, 2009

    Have these people put their plaque on the Allen Hotel yet? They ought to. The two guys in charge of this mess were Terry Galvin and Bob Linnell. And now they are heritage group officers on the heritage group board.

    Plaque it now, I say! Before it gets away!

  3. #3 by Ling Cod on November 30, 2009

    The Redevelopment Agency doesn’t build every ugly thing in Fullerton, but ugly messes are all they seem to build. Are all city Redevelopment Agencies this bad?

  4. #4 by Anonymous on November 30, 2009

    Perhaps you could set a slide show to some sappy, dreary music…

  5. #5 by Nut on November 30, 2009

    We need the government to step in and help!

  6. #6 by Tina on November 30, 2009

    A sign with a tile roof, who could think of something so stupid?

  7. #7 by Uncle Joe on November 30, 2009

    I notice the tiles are broken, how predictable.

  8. #8 by admin on November 30, 2009

    Redevelopment comes up with some of the most ridiculous ideas. It’s not their money, so it’s like a free for all.

    You would think that maybe something so lame like a tiled roof on a sign in a park would be scrutinized by the RDRC, wrong! They are there to rubber stamp what’s put in front of them, if the members are architects, designers, etc. and they have business (work) in Fullerton, they will never go against staffs recommendation. “They” want to be staffs friend, they all know, “what goes around comes around”. There’s the problem.

  9. #9 by Dead Fish on November 30, 2009

    Yegads, how many ling cods had their fins in this?

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