City council reviews plans to revitalize SPUSD district office and downtown area

Story by Cloe Maurer
Staff Writer

Photo by Katelyn Hernandez
Staff Photographer 

South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe and SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz presented a plan to revitalize the SPUSD District Office and Mission District Wednesday, June 19. The district office’s proposed revitalization is a collaborative effort between the city and the school district who hope to develop both the building and its surrounding downtown area.

The SPUSD District office is a 100-year-old structure which was originally built to house an elementary school and was never intended or adequately equipped to operate as an administrative office. Yantz, while acknowledging the building’s merit as a valuable piece of South Pasadena’s vibrant architectural history, outlined a myriad of issues the space presents. 

“[The office] is a poor design. It was designed to be an elementary school, not an administrative office,” Yantz said. “Back in 2015, we had an assessment of the building and it was estimated to be about $6 million to restore and recondition.”

With the larger updated space, the district plans to expand its community outreach by the way of adult transitional programs and alternative high school options operating out of the district office.

The current office suffers from a number of systemic issues that go hand in hand with a structure of its age. Along with faulty plumbing and electrical systems, there is not enough square footage to efficiently conduct day to day operations or securely store permanent records. One of the building’s more pressing and potentially dangerous shortcomings is outdated seismic reinforcement. The two solutions on the table are to either renovate the current office or move to another building.

DeWolfe followed Yantz’s presentation with a presentation on the downtown revitalization plan, noting that the district office’s Mission District location makes the property an important component in the downtown revitalization plan and the development of the area. 

The proposed plan to reinvigorate downtown South Pasadena has been in the works since March of 2011. After extensive drafting and discussion, the Department of Planning and Building approved the committee’s final building plan. The plan will strongly encourage the use of mixed-use buildings, properties that combine residential and commercial uses, to inhabit the city’s historic district. 

DeWolfe hopes the downtown plan will not only generate revenue for the city budget but breathe new life into the downtown area through new residential areas and new businesses.

“It does create opportunities for the production of affordable housing… [especially] with such strong market demand in South Pasadena,” DeWolfe said. “We frequently hear from the community wishing there was a hotel, catering, and banquet facilities in town… hospitality creates more opportunities and allows us to create the most revenue for the city.”

The city plans to continue the discussion and development of the district office and downtown revitalization plans in the coming months.

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