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Pasadena’s Affinity Project on Arroyo Parkway moves a step closer to final approval

Pasadena took another step in paving the way for a major development project in the area of the Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway.

Developers hope to demolish six buildings on Pasadena’s Arroyo Parkway in favor of a development known as the Affinity Project, which could one day entail medical offices, assisted and unassisted living facilities, and ground floor commercial uses, if approved by City Council.

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If constructed, three existing buildings would be retained, including the Whole Foods Market and the subterranean parking structure at 465 S. Arroyo Parkway, and two historic structures at 501 and 523 S. Arroyo Parkway, according to a city report. Up to five new levels of subterranean parking would be added as part of the project, which would be at intersection with California Boulevard and Bellevue Drive.

On Monday, Jan. 9, the City Council approved a first reading of an amended zoning map that changes the designation for the area of the development – on the west side of South Arroyo Parkway sound of East Bellevue Drive, and north of East California Boulevard — to make way for the Affinity Project.

The new map essentially modified boundaries and revises development standards specific to the project. Such standards include maximum heights, parking allocations, open space and signage. For a look at those standards under the first-reading of the map, visit: https://www.cityofpasadena.net/planning/planned-development-39-affinity-project/.

The approval was only a first reading of the ordinance. It will come back to the council for final approval.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the project in July, but with conditions. That discussion touched on traffic impacts and the community benefits of the proposed project.

Ultimately, in November, developers received approval from the City Council to take the next steps in efforts to construct an 80-foot-high building on Pasadena’s Arroyo Parkway that is part of the planned the Affinity Project, which will one day include medical offices and senior living.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed two-building, 281,000 square-foot development proposed for 491-577 S. Arroyo Pkwy. in Pasadena, CA. (Courtesy city of Pasadena)

The Affinity Project is expected to be completed in 2026, but concerns relating to its aesthetic features and impact on surrounding traffic had stalled a planned development agreement, which must be obtained along with a building permit in order to break ground.

When the project was in its early stages, a handful of residents and neighborhood groups, including Livable Pasadena and the Magnolia Avenue Landmark District, argued the size of the buildings would change the neighborhood’s character. They wanted officials to push for smaller buildings and warned about increased traffic concerns.

That corridor at rush hour can be busy, including traffic to and from the nearby 110 and 210 on and offramps.

But with the approval of the first reading, the council appears on track to a final approval of the project of the zoning amendment, which is needed for the project to happen.

Related links

Pasadena eases key hurdles for senior living development on Arrow Parkway near Whole Foods
The Derby restaurant, Arcadia’s 1920s restaurant, could be centerpiece of new hub
Pasadena’s City Council not quite ready to sign off on Affinity project
Irwindale Speedway property is sold, but don’t expect speedway to go away overnight

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