15 Sep 2014
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CenterCal Hosts Waterfront Workshop

The city and CenterCal are negotiating to develop multiple acres of waterfront property, including the Redondo Beach Pier.

CenterCal Hosts Waterfront Workshop

More than 200 people attended the first of two workshops hosted by CenterCal Properties and the city of Redondo Beach on the future of the city's waterfront.

The workshop, held at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, allowed people to tell the CenterCal developers what Redondo Beach residents wanted to see on the waterfront property, which includes the Redondo Beach Pier and Pier Plaza, International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach Marina and Seaside Lagoon.

Residents from both North and South Redondo Beach focused on their visions for the pier, with some imploring the developers to maintain the character of the waterfront and not turn it into another Del Amo mall. People who live in The Village above the leasehold also asked CenterCal to be mindful of the noise and traffic the development could create.

CenterCal beat out finalists Lowe Enterprises and Pacifica Companies after a five-month selection process primarily because of its retail-first approach and strong financial backing, according to members of the city council.

A second meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. to noon on the second floor of the Main Library in South Redondo Beach.

For a complete recap of Tuesday night's meeting, read the live blog below. Entries are in chronological order. Please forgive any misspelled names!

6:20 p.m.: After people have milled around and submitted comment cards, everyone is asked to take a seat for the official program.

"This program only works if everybody participates," says moderator Larry Lewis. After explaining some procedures, he calls the event a "milestone."

He continues to give background on the project while I type furiously to make sure this goes online as soon as possible.

6:23 p.m.: Lewis is encouraging people to share their favorite memories of the Redondo Beach Pier and waterfront on cards left at the side of the room.

6:26 p.m.: CenterCal Fred Bruning gets up to speak.

"We're not here to talk about our ideas for the project. We have a lot of them," but they want to hear from people who know a lot of the property—e.g. the community, Bruning says. "This is a very remarkable piece of property ...it's a property that's been somewhat neglected (but) it has remarkable potential."

He says CenterCal plans to "add value to the community" and be respectful of zoning regulations and the neighbors, as well as focusing on interconnectivity and the Blue Zones Project, formerly known as the Healthways-Blue Zones Vitality City initiative.

"The pier has some really amazing memories for me," he says. His mother-in-law used to date her husband on the pier, and he used to go fishing with his dad on the pier.

6:30 p.m.: "We definitely don't want to build another Del Amo Fashion Center," Bruning says.

CenterCal President Jean Paul Wardy introduced himself, and now it's time for comments. They'll call up three names at a time, and ask people to queue up. They've called five names.

6:34 p.m.: First up is Vincent Tipaldo. He says he appreciates this workshop.

"I thought, wow, these guys build really nice malls. The problem is, the last thing I want to see in that area is a mall ... I understand the need for some retail ... but everything in the proposal just screamed, 'Mall, mall, mall!'" he says. He wants an example of a non-mall project.

Bruning explains that CenterCal focuses on retail, but they include parks and open space so people want to go. He describes projects that were designed to be "more than just malls, more than just retail projects."

"It's going to be a unique site and it's not going to be like anything we've ever done," he says. "The most important thing about the site is the place we create—not necessarily the businesses we put in it ... It has to be a special place."

Tipaldo nods as Bruning explains that he hopes to create a unique site.

6:37 p.m.: Nicole Vaughn says she's concerned about the red tide and the fish kill, noting that there should be more water circulation in the area. "That's just something I wanted you to consider if you weren't aware of it," she says.

"I think that we really need to think about how to keep that kind of element away from this area," she adds as she talks about the upgrades in Hermosa and etched graffiti.

She also wants a lower boardwalk that people can walk along, and a raised area with outside dining and harbor views.

"And maybe no night clubs," she finishes. A few in the audience applaud.

6:41 p.m.: Delia Vechi says, "Unfortunately, we don't enjoy the pier."

"You worry me a lot because in your first presentation, you stated that people should come to Redondo—not go out to Del Amo or Culver City—and destroy my view," she says.

She calls something "totally wrong," but I didn't catch what was totally wrong. She emphasizes that there should be a diversity of uses year-round and the highest-quality tenants. "We should have cafes, shops, public open spaces, a promenade—view, view, view is the name of the game! Don't build another corridor like Catalina," she adds.

CenterCal should hire "the best architects that have done successful waterfront developments." Her comments are met with applause, too.

6:44 p.m.: Georgette, a 30-plus-year resident of Redondo, says she looks forward to the progress. Gathering places and cultural events are important, too.

"That pier has not measured up, and this is a golden opportunity to make it spectacular," she says. She wants to know how the Redondo Landing designs will be integrated with the CenterCal designs.

Wardy says the Redondo Landing is the "first part." The moderator says it will be incorporated into the design.

6:47 p.m.: Nadine Meisner, who lives in The Village, is speaking on behalf of Residents for Appropriate Development. She has a letter from them.

The organization is made from residents involved in the condo associations in The Village and Seascape. "There's over 1,000 residents right there not to mention the apartments and the senior home, and it's critical that whatever you build, it is harmonious," she says, noting that a Pier Plaza building is within 50 feet of residential property lines.

They're concerned about noise levels, odors from restaurants, traffic and congestion, late-night establishments next to residents, loss of views (and subsequent loss of property value). They want open space and view corridors, and parking for public beach access.

She reiterates that she would be happy to meet with the developers.

6:50 p.m.: Nina Zak Laddon is representing the art community—they want an "eclectic, contemporary" art center as part of the development. It could offer poetry readings, art workshops, music and more for visitors of the waterfront. "We have the opportunity to create a destination, a landmark, a unique space with a creative arts center on the water," she says.

There are lots of supporters who would be willing to help make such a venue a success, she says as she asks all the arts people in the audience to stand.

She gets a standing ovation from about three-quarters of the audience.

6:51 p.m.: Jeff—I didn't catch his last name—is a District 1 resident and member of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition. He's looking forward to bicycle access.

6:52 p.m.: Roy Sikes, another resident of The Village, restates Meisner's concern about noise, congestion and views. "An ocean view is worth rental rates of $200 more," he says. "An investor would be very interested in knowing that difference."

"An ocean view is worth about $66,000. So we are obviously very concerned about our ocean views," he says.

6:57 p.m.: Al Meisner, Nadine's husband, thanks Sean Guthrie of King Harbor for sending him to pps.org. "I still have yet to see a vision provided by the city," he says. He's presenting more to the crowd than the developers—he's not even looking at them.

It sounds as though he's saying the developers are cutting the public out of the project.

Enrique, another homeowner in The Village, is concerned about skateboarders. He wants the anti-skateboarder measures put in place to still allow people to sit down.

"I'm concerned a little bit about the need for a hotel," he says. He's concerned about the added congestion, and he wants the pier "to be for those who are in the area already."

7 p.m.: Redondo Landing master leaseholder Bob Resnick steps up to the microphone. He says he's impressed with Bruning and Wardy.

"I think that while they're hear to listen to you," Resnick tells the audience, "I think there will be a time where you really need to listen to them also."

"I think that phasing is going to be critically important," he notes. He wants the public to stay engaged, and he thinks the developers should start with the pier. "I think it's an opportunity for all of us to come together around a common vision ... I think it should be something that's out of the box. The resources that the developers are working with are non-replicable."

7:03 p.m.: Steve Schumaker is representing the Redondo Fun Factory and the Fun Fish Market Restaurant. He's wondering if their leasehold is not part of the project, since it's in gray on the map.

7:05 p.m.: Joy has been a Redondo resident since 1988. "The reason I moved to Redondo Beach is obviously because of the Beach," she says. She owns Mystical Joy on the International Boardwalk, and she wonders what's going to happen to her business.

"The Redondo Pier has always been the Redondo Pier, and the International Boardwalk has been dubbed the stepchild," she says. She wants the boardwalk integrated with the pier.

She's also hoping to see her lease renewed "at a moderate cost" when it expires. She signed a short-term lease last year.

7:07 p.m.: Caroline Allen describes herself as a "relative newcomer" to Redondo—she's only been here six months.

She's worried about how the development will affect water quality in the area—"the humble little mollusk, sea shells, is disappearing ... when they disappear, that is a really strong sign that we have poor water quality."

In addition to an arts center, why not add a science center? she asks.

"There is nothing like being at the beach to have a teachable moment," she says.

7:08 p.m.: Charlie Syzmanski is worried about traffic flow. He also wants to talk about the theme—something unique, rather than the "vintage modern" the city pushed for the Redondo Landing and Seaside Lagoon buildings.

He wants a building that is unique to Redondo and recognizable.

More names are being called.

7:13 p.m.: Victoria Corradi is a graduate of Jefferson Elementary, and she wants the energy and excitement back. Additionally, she owns property near the pier, and she thinks the entryways to the pier should be upgraded.

She's also involved in the Redondo Pier Association—"It's like a big family ... and I hope to see them all stay and benefit from this," she says.

7:16 p.m.: Judy Milner of Shark Attack on the pier says, "We've seen the ups and the downs ... I think that this whole approach that you guys are taking is awesome and I think the community also has to take a positive approach. I think we should make positive suggestions and not negative ones."

Her words are met with the applause. "People in Redondo Beach constantly criticize what's there," she says. She notes that traffic used to be backed up on Torrance Boulevard all the way to Prospect Avenue. "I think to have a positive view and bring positive ideas to you guys is the way to go.

"Of course my husband and I would like to be there for a long time to come ... I find it very upsetting ... to hear a lot of negativity because this is a fabulous place."

"It's easy to get down," she says. "It's not all a minus and I really get upset when I hear it. I wish you guys all the luck in the world."

Some members of the audience give her a standing ovation.

7:17 p.m.: Deanna, a resident of The Village, reiterates that things should be kept positive, but that the quality of life for residents should be taken into account.

7:18 p.m.: Lisa Faulk is representing the King Harbor Boater's Advisory Panel. She's advocating for a public boat launch ramp.

7:20 p.m.: Another Village resident, Ray, says he's OK with a hotel. "People on vacation spend money—it's excellent," he says. "They want to have access to all the things that we want."

He's concerned about the number of meetings to address the design; he wants more. He's advocating for a third, final meeting.

7:22 p.m.: And here's the first power plant mention! This resident, whose name I didn't catch, is talking about the 38 acres that would be left over should AES build its proposed plant.

"It can't be just a park. It has to be many things for us." It sounds like he wants a mixed-use development of sorts. He also wants tourists to "get here, get out, quickly."

7:25 p.m.: Pam Hughes—another resident of The Village—says, "I don't know if I'm more excited or more worried" about the project. Her apartment is on Torrance Boulevard, and the pier parking lot fills up on the weekends.

"We don't need a lot of steel and glass, and I think the nostalgia part of it, I think that's the winner for me anyway," she says. "As far as sculptures and things, I think people want to see the ocean."

She's also unhappy about the Chase Bank and the CVS at the corners of Torrance Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway.

7:26 p.m.: I didn't catch this man's name. He wants to know if future meetings will include a detailed map of the plan with property borders. "It looks pretty massive to me, and quite honestly, developers over-develop. And that's what concerns me."

He's also concerned about traffic on Catalina Avenue and elsewhere: "You people need to plan the traffic and the parking spaces and the security before you put up any buildings."

"This City Council, I don't think has got enough vision to take on a task like this," he says. He also compares the potential gridlock on Catalina Avenue to the gridlock in Congress.

7:30 p.m.: Tony Trutanich, whose family owns Old Tony's on the Pier, suggests a central area for the paddleboats and glass-bottomed boat. "They seem really run-down, like there's crab cages hanging and lots of bird debris," he notes.

He says the Village residents are great customers and spokespeople for the area, and he wonders if SEA Lab could be relocated closer to the pier. "A lot of the businesses are all locally owned," he says. Instead of bringing down a Gap, bring a local clothing store.

"It'd be great to see all locally owned businesses," he says.

7:33 p.m.: John, whose last name I can't remember at the moment, talks about boating and the harbor. He wants it to stay a working harbor, as well as add a dinghy dock. He offers suggestions for the International Boardwalk.

He also wants a place to watch the sunset atop the pier.

7:34 p.m.: Tanya is offering kudos for keeping the Seaside Lagoon—but judging from the map, it doesn't look like it's part of the leasehold.

She's also worried that people who live aboard boats in the marina will be looking at a wall.

7:36 p.m.: Manhattan Beach resident Gerry O'Connor is at the microphone.

"I do see this as a significant project for all of the Beach Cities," he says. He wants to speak to the decision-making process. "My biggest concern, I hope you are offered the opportunity by the city to follow out the thoughts that you opened with. You won't do that by rushing to a preliminary design concept in March 2013." He gets applause.

He talks about how he was the head of the Planning Commission during the Metlox Project in Manhattan Beach. "There's a trust issue in the Redondo community right now, and it has to do with the power plant decision-making," he says.

7:39 p.m.: "I liked what you said at the beginning, what you opened up to the group to what your concern, your interest is," says Joan Riley. "Sometimes in Redondo Beach it's hard to find places you can gather with people of different ages."

Noise is really a big deal in the Seascape condos, she says. She also says that residents of The Village "keep the place going," so their input is extremely important.

She says she wouldn't have known about the meeting except for an email from Bill Brand. As a note, it's been posted on the front of the city website, and articles have been written on Patch, the Easy Reader, the Beach Reporter and the Daily Breeze.

7:41 p.m.: This woman from the Visitor's Bureau is talking about the "temporary residents." Visitors add "tremendous value" to the area.

"There are some visitors that come in that we don't necessarily want, but the visitors that we do want will come in with the right development," she says.

"I do hope the dialogue continues, and on behalf of all of us, I thank you."

7:44 p.m.: Leah from the South Bay has a business in Riviera village. She supports the development. "I feel like the community needs to work more as a whole and be more lenient with each other for the changes that are coming because if everybody is working for themselves, this project won't happen," she says. "There are going to be issues where people are going to have to be tolerant of noise, and change."

She says the pier should offer a chance for creativity and culture for children. "My personal love and concern is teaching children music, and drumming in particular," she says. She wants to be able to teach music to children on the pier once per month. I'm not sure if she's asking The Village residents and pier businesses for right now, or the developers for the future.

7:46 p.m.: Leslie Page from the Redondo Beach Marina says, "There's a lot of good stuff that we do in the harbor, now ... We have car shows. We have whale watching ... we have that little yellow submarine."

"This is a phenomenal community; we have a phenomenal city staff ... This has not been going fast—we've been waiting for this a long, long time."

7:50 p.m.: Susie, who has lived in Redondo for more than 50 years, says publicity for the meetings is very important. She says the only way she learned of the meeting was through the Redondo Beach Art Group.

She's a member of three-generations of surfers in her family. "The views that people have today in this city are of utmost importance. We've all spent a fortune to live here. To have our views destroyed, so we can bring in people from out of the area" is not a good idea, she says.

She says she's one of only three residences on her block that uses the pier. She has to go to the movies in Torrance or Palos Verdes (or at the South Bay Galleria).

"It's been called a 'third-world pier' for decades," she says.

She also suggests free parking for Redondo Beach residents, to raucous applause.

­7:51 p.m.: That's it! "I think we can all agree it's an exciting night," says Lewis, the moderator. "We want to remind everybody that this is the beginning of the process."

He reminds the audience of the second meeting in December as people pack up to leave.

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