Montebello Exploring Renovations on Whittier Boulevard Corridor
Business owners want the city to focus on attracting customers.
By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer
A major boulevard that welcomes residents and visitors to the city of Montebello has seen its share of renovations aimed at improving the economy of a street famous for its dress stores and other small businesses. Now, the city’s mayor says staff is looking at ways to continue revitalizing Whittier Boulevard, a plan that is drawing mixed reactions from business owners.
Montebello Mayor William Molinari provided his usual update on revitalization efforts taking place on the street during a recent city council meeting. “Hopefully, in the very near future we’ll see lighting [on the Whittier Bridge] restored and that will make a big difference on the boulevard,” Molinari said.
The mayor also focused on the appearance and maintenance of the palm trees and plants dispersed throughout the commercial corridor, some of which the mayor said are little more than bare dirt because the city has failed to enter into maintenance agreements for care of the greenery. Molinari said the public works department has done its best to clean up the area, and now he is working with city staff to come up with ideas for plants that are low maintenance but more aesthetically pleasing than what there now.
Teresa Villalvazo works at April’s Pastries and agrees that there should be more plants on the street but suggests that the city should focus first on making sure the street is actually cleaned.
“We want the city to be more vigilant,” she said in Spanish. “They need to make sure the businesses are not painted with graffiti and make sure the street sweepers are cleaning the streets.”
And for Estela Razo, the owner of Lupita’s Bridal Shop, more plants like the palm trees that line the boulevard means less parking for customers.
She told EGP that the palm trees planted between the sidewalk and the street a few years ago may have beautified the area, but they also inadvertently made parking an issue.
More important still, Razo told EGP, more construction on Whittier Boulevard means closing the doors to her business.
“It’s better that they don’t renovate,” she said. “Construction means that businesses will have to close again because customers won’t come” to a street where construction is going on, she said.
Joe Mendoza owns Eternity Bridal and told EGP the only improvement he wants to see from the city is the fixing of all the potholes on Montebello streets.
“Customers are not going to want to come down a street with potholes that will damage their rims and tires,” he said.
Though he would like to see police be more vigilant about preventing graffiti, a problem for many of the businesses located along Whittier Boulevard, Mendoza said the easiest way for the city to attract more foot traffic to the area is by making the boulevard a cultural destination.
He told EGP it concerns him that the city no longer puts up Christmas decorations and says he misses the lights that in years past wrapped around the palm trees.
“That all went away,” he said. “The focus has been more on the mall, but they should focus down here too.”
Mendoza suggests that the city host events on the boulevard to help promote the businesses in the area, the way the city of Huntington Park hosts most of their events on their main boulevard.
“It brings people from all over,” he said.
Molinari thinks a recently approved ordinance that allows outdoor sidewalk dinning clears the way for businesses to have live entertainment on the weekends, potentially attracting more people to the area.
Recently hired Director of Planning and Community Development, Alex Hamilton told EGP the city is looking at a “series of ideas and concepts” to improve the boulevard, including working on amendments so commercial use ordinances are more business friendly, said Molinari during the meeting.
There are several vacant stores along the heavily traveled boulevard, but according to Molinari, city staff plan to advertise their availability during a shopping center convention they will attend next month.
Elizabeth Avila, who works at Caesar’s Uniforms says she has noticed “some improvements on the street” but would like the city to improve marketing to attract customers to the bouelevard.
“We need to focus [first] on making sure the clientele make it in the door.”Print This Post
April 24, 2014 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.