Barr Lumber Still Vacant

barr lumber

Remember when I blogged about how I thought the Barr Lumber site would remain vacant for a really long time? Well, it's seven months later, and nothing's changed.

A month or so ago, the city decided to change the general plan for the area back from "mixed use" to "commercial." Not a good decision.

Barr was only able to stay in business as long as they did because a lot of their revenue was from wholesale lumber sales. A few large trucks pulling into the lot each day paid the bills. For a regular, retail commercial business to make a go at this site, it would take a HUGE increase in car traffic, and access to this site is so poor that if a business DID generate that much traffic, the corner would become gridlocked.

By contrast, mixed use would have made perfect sense for this corner. Valley, between Walnut Grove (actually, from around Delta) and Rosemead should be Downtown Rosemead. It should be the most vibrant part of the city. It should not be a dead zone.

As mixed use development, the increased residential density would have made a smallish commercial development at this site viable. It would also have continued a long-standing (and largely accidental) trend of increasing residential density at Walnut Grove and Valley. Because, the thing is, there is already a lot of moderately high density residential development here. There's a motel/lower income housing on Valley, just a little west of hear. And from Valley on north on Walnut Grove, pretty much all the way to Wells (where I live), the majority of the acreage here is already two- and three-story tall apartments or condos. Give these folks (and me!) a reason to walk a 1/2 mile or quarter mile to a destination development, and we'd do it. Bring in a little more residential density (which would have a very limited impact on traffic, especially in comparison with with what a successful commercial development of this same parcel would require), and this could be the anchor for a new, vibrant, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood, right in Downtown Rosemead. It could also help support the existing retail near this corner, particularly if this was the first of several redevelopment projects at this corner (the defunct tire store kitty corner to the Barr property would be another candidate for redevelopment).

Or, alternatively, we can let the corner of Walnut Grove and Valley turn a little bit more like Valley and Temple City. This should really be a no-brainer.

Mixed use there's a really

Mixed use there's a really good idea.

Here's my idea for increasing density, foot traffic, and pedestrian activity: street vendors.

Create licensed street vendor areas between the islands of retail stores that are open in the evening (and encourage them to open for the evening). Forbid street vending elsewhere in the city. Use the vendors to create a continuous commercial strip along the south side of Valley.
Even the existing retail in the mini malls could establish vendor tables.

I know it has a "3rd world" image... but look at who lives around there :) j/k

The city should heavily regulate these vendors for health code violations, aesthetics, and even to prevent them from competing. The vendors should also hire a security patrol team. Charge rents to vendors.

Over time, add artists, fruit vendors etc.

There's enough money in the city to where it might not be as fancy as Santa Monica or South Pasadena, but it could be pretty nice and fancy.