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Monday, Aug 15, 2022
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Developer of Price Pfister Site Increases Project Size, Visibility

Pacoima residents are still waiting for the redevelopment of the former Price Pfister factory, but now they can look forward to a larger project. The developer has just purchased an additional 4 acres along San Fernando Road, a $3.4-million acquisition that will create a total project area of about 30 acres and, perhaps more important, greatly increase the visibility of the development when it is completed. “It gives this project room to breathe,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Alex Padilla whose district includes the project area. “It certainly opens up visibility to San Fernando Road and the on and off ramps from the 118 (Freeway).” The developer of the project, Primestor Development Inc., acquired the additional land, which also sits on Paxton Street, specifically for the purpose of increasing the visibility of the site along San Fernando Road. “We felt that having the San Fernando Road frontage was important to the project so it wasn’t a project book-ended by industrial space,” said Arturo Sneider, vice president and co-owner of Beverly Hills-based Primestor. “That way we will be on the corner and surrounded by more of a residential feel.” The project, which has not yet been named, will be anchored with a Lowe’s, but the home improvement chain is purchasing the land on which it will locate separately. The new frontage could go a long way to improving the landscape of the Pacoima neighborhood where the project will be housed, which is dominated by railroad tracks and long stretches of old and shabby industrial buildings. By contrast, Primestor, which specializes in working in Latino neighborhoods like Pacoima, is known for its attention to the design of the projects it builds. Art component A recently completed center in North Hills, for instance, sports a mosaic mural of famous Mexican painters and marble plaques inscribed with information about their lives. “Every one of our projects has a pretty aggressive art component,” said Sneider, whose company is currently developing about 2 million square feet of retail space out of its L.A. and Chicago offices. Primestor has had numerous meetings with neighborhood groups, city officials and others about the project, but Sneider said the company will not begin the process of designing the center until he gets a better feel for what the community wants. For this and other shopping centers the company has built, Primestor consults the community for everything from the types of tenants it wants to the name of the complex. “When you don’t have many opportunities to make a statement about your community, it does give you an opportunity to define how your community is perceived and what the image is,” Sneider said. “Do you want to go back to the history, or use the name to change something about the community? It’s something the community has to decide.” For their part, Pacoima residents appear happy to weigh in on what they would like. The neighborhood council has been invited to tour some of Primestor’s other projects, and some ideas, like an Imax theater, have already been proposed. “Obviously a commercial center is always appealing,” said Edwin Ramirez, president of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council. “When you tie that opportunity with the crime reduction in Pacoima and all the community improvements that are happening, it sounds like a very good opportunity to establish a reason for people to visit Pacoima. The site has been underutilized ever since Price Pfister moved most of its operation to Mexico in 1989 following the company’s acquisition by Black & Decker. Although the new owners were expected to close the site ever since, Price Pfister continued to maintain a skeleton operation there until 2003. Brownfield cleanup Since then, residents have been waiting for a buyer and the cleanup of the brownfield site, which is currently underway. In the interim, expectations seem to have modified a bit. The Lowe’s store, which did not get a warm welcome when it was first proposed, is moving ahead without much opposition, and residents seem comfortable with the cleanup proposed, although Ramirez said most would prefer that the site be restored according to acceptable levels for residential development, not the lower standards for commercial development that will apply to the cleanup. At the same time, concerns over the kinds of jobs a retail development would bring also seem to have been mollified. “We’re going from a quote, unquote dirty site to a much cleaner site,” Padilla said. “Second, there’s no shortage of industrial space in the Northeast Valley, so to take this one parcel and go from industrial to commercial doesn’t concern me. In fact, what it does is helps us to fill a significant void when it comes to retail facilities for the neighborhood.”

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