Pasadena area real-estate and development roundup


  • There will be a ribbon-cutting Monday for the new Jet Propulsion Laboratory Flight Projects Center at 4800 Oak Grove in Pasadena. The structure was designed by Irvine-based architecture firm LPA Inc. (via CurbedLA)

  • Would you prefer two years of NFL games in Downtown Los Angeles or Pasadena? What Majestic Realty’s John Semcken wants, he almost always gets. (via CurbedLA)

  • The Pasadena Convention Center has received a
    Best of 2009 award from California Construction for its $150 million
    expansion project.
    (via Star-News)

  • Elected officials gave the hard-sell for Gold Line Foothill Extension funding Wednesday. (via Star-News)

Residential real-estate highlights:

  • An abandoned mid-century Pasadena home with three bedrooms and one-and-three-quarter bathrooms is on the market for $550,000. (via CurbedLA)

  • Legal consultant Stuart A. Forsyth and Mary J. Forsyth have listed a two-bedroom, two-bath home at 455 Cherry Dr. in Pasadena for $1.195 million. (via BlockShopper)

A little slice of Bungalow Heaven




The American Planning Association this week named Bungalow Heaven among
its list of America’s Top 10 Great Places
. It’s the only neighborhood in California on this year’s list.

Julianna Delgado, president of the Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood Association, tells the Pasadena Star-News:

“It was really quite stunning when we found out we’d made the finals, and I actually cried when I heard the news.”

Most of the Arts and Crafts bungalows in the neighborhood were built between 1905-1920. With more than 1,000 historic homes in the neighborhood, it’s Pasadena’s largest historic district, and it was listed on the National
Register of Historic Places
last year.

We combed through the archives to find some fav photos from the landmark district. All the photos are from 2006, save for the superhero in the window from 2002. Gotta relish the personality that comes through in the detail shots — it’s not the devil in there; just a little slice of (Bungalow) Heaven.

(Photos by Roy LaBomme, Walt Mancini and Sarah Reingewirtz)

Mid-century modern gets an update




Tara Sandler and Jennifer Davidson are producers for HGTV who recently revamped the kitchen and master bath in their home overlooking the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Through their experience on shows like “Design on a Dime,” “Myles of Style,” and “Designed to Sell” they connected with designer Troy Adams.

From the Daily News:


“‘I did a lot of work in Asia, and I just loved all the textures and finishes and rock and the
sound of running water and how the gardens were so apparent in the
design,’ says Adams, who would marry the aesthetic with his affinity
for European sophistication and American functionality. ‘Those three
elements together make up fusion design, which you can see here.

“‘It’s a sleek sculptural product that’s very high-tech, modern and highly engineered.'”

See more photos.

(Photos by John McCoy)

Historic Michael White Adobe under threat of demolition in San Marino



An L.A. Times piece yesterday examined the undetermined but almost certainly gloomy fate of the Michael White Adobe in San Marino. The structure is unusually situated on the San Marino High School campus, which sprung up around the adobe.

The intro to the Times’ piece gives you an idea what the high-schoolers think — or think not — of the adobe. (Although, if you read through the whole thing, you’ll see that at least a handful do care about preserving its history.)

“Which way to the Michael White Adobe?
‘The what?’
‘Is that, like, a classroom or something?’
‘I have no idea.'”

The 164-year-old adobe has gone without much care or attention by the school and school district. Last year, school officials proposed removing the adobe so that they might expand the swimming pool that, literally, butts up against it.

“It would cost more than $1 million to move the house and roughly the
same to make it fit for campus use, environmental documents show.

“Knocking down the adobe, the only option covered by the school
district’s insurance, comes with a much lower price tag: $176,000. The
school board is expected to decide the house’s fate Oct. 27 and is
taking public comments through (today).”

You can see from the photos taken early this year how the adobe is enmeshed with the campus in a rather awkward way. (Photos by Walt Mancini / Staff)

RELATED: There will be a story by Janette Williams in tomorrow’s Pasadena Star-News about another historic adobe — this one in Arcadia — that has been crumbling while preservation plans were bogged down for years. The future looks brighter for that structure, the Hugo Reid Adobe, and the push is on to get a restoration underway.



Get to know Gold Line bridge designer who will shape ‘gateway to the San Gabriel Valley’



In today’s paper, a Star-News reporter caught up with Andrew Leicester, the Minnesota-based artist who was chosen to design a bridge along the Foothill Gold Line extension in Arcadia.


The 739-foot structure is being billed as an iconic gateway into the San Gabriel Valley.

Reporter Nathan McIntire writes:

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Construction
Authority chose Leicester in July to design the artistic elements of
the bridge, which will cost an estimated $20 to $25 million to build.

Leicester’s initial concept for the bridge, part of his pitch to the selection committee, was actually scrapped. (The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a rendering of that original concept, which featured references to peacocks.)

Now Leicester …
plans to incorporate the artistic traditions from Native American
tribes from the San Gabriel Valley, including the Chumash and
Gabrielenos, and references to the region’s native animal and plant
life into a contemporary structure.

It was Leicester’s experience that got him the job.

At right are some of the transit-oriented projects Leicester has in his online portfolio.

The top photo shows platform and bridge cladding that Leicester designed for the Charlotte, N.C.-area transit system.

Second and third photos from top show a light-rail transit stop designed in Minneapolis.

Bottom two photos show a ceramic wall mural project for Penn Station in New York City.

Below are some of Leicester’s past sketches for various public arts works.

(Photos and renderings courtesy Andrew Leicester)


Photo finish: Revisiting the historic Octagon house, formerly of Pasadena



The Times’ Sam Watters, in his Lost L.A. column, digs into the “multidimensional” history of the famed Octagon house:


“Along the Arroyo Seco Parkway from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena is
a collection of 19th century buildings saved from L.A.’s busy wrecking
ball. At Heritage Square, which isn’t a square, you’ll find a house
that isn’t a rectangle. It’s an octagon, built for a family in Pasadena.”

It was built in 1893 by Gilbert Longfellow (and, actually, was not his first construction of an eight-sided home) who ran a family farm that was later taken up and expanded by his son.

After falling into disrepair, the building was moved from Pasadena in 1986 to Heritage Square. In the photo above, the Octagon house is transported down Colorado Boulevard, crossing over Fair Oaks, on Aug. 11, 1986.

It was the second move for the historic structure, which had been relocated the first time in 1917 “to a city lot about a mile north of the farm on Allen Avenue,” according to the Heritage Square Museum Web site.

Writes Watters:

“At the time of the final move, Pasadena Heritage argued that the
Longfellow house should remain in the city of its origin. But the horse
was already out of the octagon; Longfellow’s house should never have
been moved in the first place from the original location on San Pasqual.”

In the color photos above, a renovations specialist puts some finishing touches on the house, 10 years after it was moved to Heritage Square.

You can visit the Octagon house, and many other historic structures, at Heritage Square, 3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles, along the Pasadena Freeway, just north of Dodger Stadium and downtown.

Open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and most holiday Mondays from 12-5 p.m. From Nov. to March, hours are 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Guided tours of most of the structures depart hourly, from 12-3 p.m., from the Palms Depot. No admittance after the final tour has departed.

Adults, $10; Seniors, $8; Children, 6 to 12, $5. (323) 225-2700

(File photos)

What’s to become of the former YWCA building designed by Julia Morgan?


Curbed LA has obtained renderings for a proposal to restore the historic YWCA building designed by Julia Morgan.

The images come on the heels of a Pasadena Weekly story about the growing movement by city officials and preservationists to breathe life back into the vacant Marengo Avenue property.

The renderings are part of a proposal that was designed by Cal Poly architecture student Milad Sarkis for his master’s thesis. Earlier this year, he presented the plan to the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

As part of his plan, the restored facility would also become a new headquarters for Pasadena Water and Power.

The city hasn’t yet settled on any proposal.

With officials and residents mulling future uses for the YWCA building, we decided to dig through our photo archives for images of the 1920 structure.

At top is a photo by Walt Mancini taken in 2006. The image just below it is also from the same photo shoot, after the crumbling N. Marengo structure was put on Pasadena Heritage’s endangered buildings list.

At the time, there were discussions about developing the property into a boutique hotel. Those plans were scrapped.

Third from top is a historical photo, from the J. Allen Hawkins studio, courtesy of the Pasadena Museum of History.

The bottom three are historic images, re-photographed by Sarah Reingewirtz in Dec. 2008, when the Pasadena YWCA celebrated 102 years in the city.

The YWCA sold the historic Julia Morgan
building for $1 million in 1996.

It’s worth weighing in: What would you like to see happen in a restoration of the YWCA building?