This just in from reporter Bethania Palma:
After more than 30 years, it looks like Corky’s Corner’s day has come. Once home to the Shangri La strip club and bar and a squalid building (known as the “medical building”) used as a flophouse for the down-and-out, the city of Azusa will most likely succeed finally in annexing the corner (currently an odd pocket of unincorporated county turf) and puchasing the property, with aims of developing it.
The corner is owned by William and Clark “Corky” Allen, brothers who have long been in disagreement over what to do with it. William has been wanting to sell for years, while Corky wanted to keep the place, with lofty hopes of building a homeless hospice of some sort. William’s continual efforts to secure a buyer for the land had been undercut by Corky’s habit of putting his friends’ names on the property title.
But after years of trying and failing, a superior court judge finally settled things by forcing the sale of the property after a civil case was decided against the Allens. And lo, Azusa stepped up to buy the abandoned lot directly ajacent to the “Welcome to Azusa” sign on Highway 39, cash in hand.
Despite the likelihood that a restaurant and small retail will soon inhabit the place the Shangri La and medical building once stood, some will never forget it. Hearing city officials and law enforcement talk about it, it sounds like something Johnny Depp’s Capt.
Jack Sparrow, Quentin Tarantino and Charles Bukowski could have come up with if they went into business together. Azusa City Manager Fran Delach recalled the time a Nordstrom’s Rack was considering moving into the intersection, but had an abrupt mind change when representatives saw the Shangri La in all its glory.
When I went on a ride-along with LA County Sheriff’s deputies Jay Heitman, Skip Pullee and Brayton Thomas, Heitman remembered a lovely young blonde from Newport Beach who in a fantastic display of self-destruction ended up performing at the strip club. Thomas remembered the medical building as “disgusting,” filthy with constant petty crime.
Even now, after the bar and medical building have been torn down, you can find many of Corky’s friends squatting under the bridge on the east side of the property. Most have kind words for him; he did, after all, try to provide for them in an area where social services are at best scant.
Some may say now that the corner will finally change hands, it’s the end of an era. Of course whether that’s a good thing or bad depends on who you ask.