Column: Upland leaders may further roil City Hall

Items in Sunday’s column begin with a preview of Monday’s Upland council meeting in which the city manager’s fate appears to be the subject of two closed-door meetings. After that: Culture Corner and Valley Vignette items, an update on my Hitchcock film series, a plug for this blog and my reactions to a listing of the 10 Most Boring Places in California that includes Ontario.

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Last gasp for Upland packing house

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An old citrus packing house on East 19th Street in Upland just west of Campus Avenue is coming down, as detailed in my Wednesday column. Demolition is of added interest due to a faded Sunkist logo being exposed when one wall came down.

I took photos from the sidewalk and from the construction driveway, from which the above was shot, facing west. Venturing into the construction zone seemed like a poor idea and there was no one nearby to ask permission from.

For a different angle and a wider view, I drove east to the Highland Garden Center, where an employee kindly let me shoot from the fence at the west end of their property. The angle didn’t reveal anything very interesting, alas.

Next I stopped at nearby Fire Station 164 on Campus, hoping its height would provide a better overall view of the site.

The fire crew generously said I could shoot from their roof. Getting to the roof involved climbing a ladder, which I’m afraid was out of the question. After about four rungs on a ladder, my legs stop working. I handed my camera to firefighter Dennis Weaver to take photos himself on my behalf. The one below is by Weaver. It wasn’t quite the elevated view of the property for which I’d hoped — the roof isn’t that high — but it wasn’t bad.

“We could put you on the 110-foot aerial for an even higher view,” Weaver offered. “You’d be strapped in so there’s no danger. The ladder does sway a little in the wind.”

He added: “We’d have to take pictures of you, of course.”

Readers would insist on it, as would I. But I declined politely. I don’t even go on rides at the Fair, much less at fire stations.

* Update: This website, found by reader Don J., chronicles some of Upland’s packing houses. The text is disorganized and there’s no info about the 19th Street one that I could see (except for a 1980 photo that I believe is of the same building, the Upland Citrus Assn.), but the photos are neat.

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Trader Joe’s signs from Upland live on

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Signs from the interior south wall of the Upland Trader Joe’s, which closed last month, haven’t left town: The Cooper Regional History Museum, 217 A St., has them. Director Marilyn Anderson requested and got them from the manager. They were on the wall to your left if you were checking out. Upland-themed signs that named each checkstand were claimed by a second history nonprofit, Upland Heritage.

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Trader Joe’s leaving Upland

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Trader Joe’s came to Upland in 1994 and is leaving 20 years later, on Jan. 31, reports my colleague Liset Marquez. Scuttlebutt is that the landlords of the Mountain Green Shopping Center wanted to raise the rent more than the specialty grocer felt it should pay, although nobody’s saying that officially. Party City is moving to the center across the street, as Honey Baked Ham did a couple of years back, both lending credence to the rent theory.

Joe’s is an anchor of the center at 7th Street and Mountain Avenue, which also has a Kohl’s (which replaced Mervyns), CVS, Michaels (which replaced an Edwards four-plex), China Gate, Handel’s Ice Cream, Dennys and San Biagio’s Pizza, among other tenants. (A reasonably up to date list is here.)

Back in the 1990s, and even beyond, Joe’s was one of the few hip businesses out here. (*Readers remind me there was a Joe’s in the ’80s outside Montclair Plaza.)

The Upland store, a little undersized, was always jam-packed, and it paid to visit during off-hours when there might be room to maneuver the tight aisles and time to examine unfamiliar items at leisure. Visiting became less essential after Joe’s locations opened in Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga (*and Chino Hills), but Upland’s was still useful for people on the West End. (I once saw Greg Devereaux, then Ontario’s city manager, picking up a few things one evening.) Those other stores no doubt diluted traffic at the Upland location.

Leave your own thoughts on the store’s impact and departure below, or on your memories of the shopping center, which I believe dates to the 1980s, or perhaps earlier.

Joe’s isn’t slipping away in the night. A sign outside the store says they’ll have a farewell barbecue from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, serving hot dogs and drinks. The store closes that day at 9 p.m. A second farewell sign thanks its customers and notes: “All crew members from this store will be transferred to other Trader Joe’s.”

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