When Fullerton Government Plays Developer: An Object Lesson

Ooof! Didn't see that one coming!
Ooof! Didn't see that one coming!

About twenty years ago, the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency bought a few old  houses, and condemned a perfectly good commercial building from long-time prominent Fullerton attorney William Chaffee.  The City kicked everyone out and gave the prime land on the 100 block of W. Wilshire Ave in downtown to a Pasadena development group named Howard /Platz.  All this done under the condition that H/P  build retail space and apartments on top.

Yikes! Mistakes were made! By unnamed persons.
Yikes! Mistakes were made! By unnamed persons.

The developer built the apartments over retail, took its fees and profit along the way. But the project couldn’t lease up for the amounts that the developer and the City had promised each other, so eventually the property was taken over by Lenders. It was then sold for a fraction of what the City and H/P had invested because of the the dire market conditions and the complication that the project included a City parking structure. The new company which bought it lowered the rents and it eventually filled it up with tenants because of  reduced rental prices and the City’s concession that the retail space was no longer required to be tax generating.

Well, Hell. No use crying about it now.
Well, Hell. No use crying about it now.

That was good for a few renters for a short time but bad for the rest of the property owners in downtown because this glut of space forced down rental rates. It was also bad news for the City because the tax revenues that the developer had “promised” to generate never materialized.

It's our game. We get to make up the rules!
It's our game. We get to make up the rules!

The lesson; When government gets involved in the development business,  it’s bad for everyone except for a select few who take a direct benefit and the well paid redevelopment bureaucrats.

5 Replies to “When Fullerton Government Plays Developer: An Object Lesson”

  1. Yes, Howard/Platz and Terry Galvin of the RDA drove down commerical rentals and their own space literally took years to lease. The irony here is that in those days Fullerton didn’t do “housing” and the only reason Dick Ackerman and others voted for it was because of the “retail” component that turned out to be the biggest giblet in the turkey.

    This building also provided the 5 story precedent for every other Redevelopment free-loading developer ever since.

  2. It is known as “The Promenade” the first out-of-scale monstrosity downtown, and the start of the deliberate trend to convert a traditional commerical downtown into a high-density residential area all under the cover of “revitalization.”

    Funny how they never use the phrase “reinvention” or “transfiguration.”

  3. Doh! Does buffoonery know no end in Fullerton? Apparently not, it’s a rich and time-honored tradition!

  4. The participation of government, particularly the design and architecture, lowers the bar for future developments in the area. Accordingly, Fullerton became a land of below average architecture. The ground level retail is a liquor store and law offices, purely cosmetic. No economic. The market can not be fooled…the long term consequences are tragic. Could a better architect in Fullerton have been found, wink-wink?

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