Expansively speaking

Barring a natural disaster, or for that matter an unnatural disaster, Sunday’s column will be about Claremont’s downtown Village Expansion, which is mostly open for business.

Unlike Victoria Gardens, say, which opened all at once, Claremont’s expanded downtown has rolled out over a period of weeks, a store here, a restaurant there, with walkways and streets opening as construction ends. Which may be why you don’t know the Expansion is open, because there was no big splash.

Just curious: Have you been, and if so, what are your impressions?

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • Teri Siaz

    The Packing House is brilliant. Someone finally “got it right” in Claremont. The Claremont Museum of Art, The Forum and the Prison Library Project Bookstore, the kids’ art studio, The Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue Lounge. Finally someone with some resources did something to enrich the community instead of just figure out how to profit from it. The rest of the expansion? Okay, I guess. Nice that Coffee Bean is providing an alternative to Starbucks. The Packing House is the New Heart & Soul of Claremont.

  • Anonymous

    Love the packing house. As a fan of Pain Quotidien (been to Pasadena and NYC) look forward to getting back now that it’s open. Haven’t really tried the restaurants, but certainly will be back. Unfortunately, the
    Laemmle theater is not the best in quality, but since it’s the only place to see some of these films it’s certainly appreciated.

  • Kristin McConnell

    Like your other noters, I loved the Packinghouse. Unfortunately, we went on a Monday when the museum was closed, but we want to go back before I’m off maternity leave (January). We ate at the Mediterranean restaurant in the packinghouse — yummy!! As for the other parts–I’m a real big fan of Jamba Juice. I’m really glad it’s here! :)

    KT

  • Sue Anne

    If I am going shopping I like Victoria Gardens for the variety and unique shopping environment. I think Rancho Cucamonga set up a delightful shopping destination. I also love the selection of restaurants there.

    I feel the shops and restaurants in the Village expansion are blatantly overpriced and nothing stands out as unique or special. I do like the idea of the museum but I feel the area should have showcased more of Claremont’s rich history in the arts and music.

    The expansion is worth a look but beyond that I don’t see myself spending much time or money there.

  • Heather

    I grew up in Upland, a short bike ride down Arrow Rte. to the Claremont Village. The Village holds a special place in my heart and is kind of my mental ideal of non-corporate, small town, indie shopping and eating. In my opinion, the expansion has solidified Claremont’s voyage into the corporate realm. I understand that many of the new shops & restaurants are not a franchise, but I was surprised to find large, brightly lit stores such as Chico’s and American Apparel. However, I decided to accept it and enjoy the Packinghouse anyway as it is (hopefully) an economic boost for the city.

    My boyfriend and I tried Casablanca Mediterranean Bar & Grill. My impressions? The appetizers were FABULOUS! I recommend the hummus and the kibis. The meal was OK, but not worth it for the price. My kabobs were cold and the veggies even colder. If I go again, I’ll stick with ordering from the appetizer menu.

    As for the Hip Kitty…pretty good music, average drinks (The Press is better at the art of drink making), and terrible, HORRIBLE service. I think I would have to be paid to go back there. I think they may suffer from the misconception that the bar is so “hip” they are too cool to actually serve a customer. Oh, unless you are a personal friend of one of the staff. Funny…if the Hip Kitty wants to make money from me, don’t I have to actually BUY a drink?

    [Heather, thanks for the expansive comments! -- DA]

  • calwatch

    I’ve seen Rescue Dawn and 3:10 to Yuma at the Laemmle there. We walked through the Packing House and I was told that there are apartments on the top floors. If so, that is a really bad idea. Walked by some of the stores and didn’t really see too much I was interested in. The Coffee Bean is a good antidote to Starbucks, which I try not to patronize voluntarily, and apparently it gets tons of business.

    I think we should not look to Rancho Cucamonga as a comparison, but with other small downtowns like Upland, Covina and Monrovia, for which it matches up pretty well. Monrovia has the movie theater megaplex which gets lots of business, more so than the Laemmle, but if Claremont can compete with the Monrovias and Whittiers of the world, it will be successful.

  • Sue Anne

    Calwatch made some good points but I beg to differ on an important detail.

    Downtown Upland for instance does not have chain stores or franchises much the same way as the Claremont Village did not until recently. I don’t think we can compare those small downtowns that have remained populated by locally owned independent small businesses. The chains that have opened in the Village Expansion have changed the downtown dynamic in Claremont.

    Corporate owners are nameless and faceless and there is definitely less warmth and character in the new expansion shops.

  • Bob House

    While visiting my family over the holidays, I tried Pain Quotidien. Waitstaff was very nice, but food was slow to arrive. I found it a little too precious but I must admit, I’ve never understood the allure of the open-face sandwich.The sea salt on the table was labeled “Sel d’ Atlantique” or some such — I was tempted to ask for “Pacifique” salt just to play along.

    On another Claremont note, I was delighted to read about Ray Collins being in Claremont and I wondered if you have ever written about the Chris Darrow/David Lindley contingent of “notable musicians in Claremont”?

    Darrow was in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; Lindley a sideman for Jackson Brown, among others. Along with Zappa, Joan Baez and Kris Kristofferson, former/current Claremonters make up an outstanding all-star band.

    [I have not written about them, but probably should. We could add John Cage, who went to Pomona College. Before someone brings up Jim Morrison, his Claremont childhood is purely mythical; he spent a year in the Clairemont in San Diego. -- DA]

  • Shirley Wofford

    The City of Claremont’s parking policies are just “too, too much”.

    I go to the Laemmle every Wednesday — seniors have a great deal by going there. Parking adjacent to the theater is limited to two hours which does not cover arrival time, film time, etc.

    I had decided to use the Metrolink parking lot yesterday, and the thought of a nice walk to the theater seemed refreshing. I would park near College on the first row, I thought.

    As soon as I took up my parking spot I was greeted by a sign stipulating that I could not park there without a permit. There were several free spaces.

    I approached the volunteer PD patrolman on duty in the lot, and he explained to me how library and other workers were given permits for specific use of that row. I told him I just wanted to park close enough to the movie theater to have enough time to walk there, and he pointed to the far back end of the lot. I told him I did not have enough time to walk that far and he said I could address any complaints to the City.

    My thought is, “Why couldn’t they just refer the workers involved to the Metrolink lot, period. As it is, spots they don’t use will now go to waste.”

    Frustrated and out of time, I drove to the new parking garage in the west village. You can park there for 3 hours. If the movie is long like “There will be Blood,” you cannot park on the first level, and must park on the upper level.

    Granted, if you are in the village for shopping and business, you can change the location of your vehicle when time is up, but going to a movie is a little different. How much is a parking ticket anyway?

  • Bob House

    RE: Notable musicians in Claremont – I just discovered via the “909 Junkie” website (which I discovered via this blog) that Norma Tanega, who had a significant hit in the mid-60s with “Walking My Cat Named Dog,” is a long-time Claremont resident. Interesting article about her at Wikipedia too.

    [I hadn't heard of her or her song, but now I have. -- DA]