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Pasadena's South Lake Avenue district hurt by retailers’ woes

October 16, 2011 |  2:33 pm


National economic woes have hurt business on South Lake Avenue, and merchants in the business district in the heart of the city are looking for ways to regain momentum.

"Borders, Smith & Hawken, Coldwater Creek, these retailers had problems nationwide and vacated" stores on South Lake, Pasadena Councilman Terry Tornek said. "Not because of South Lake Avenue, but because of national retail trends. The area suffers because it takes a while to fill those vacancies."

On Wednesday the South Lake Business Assn. will unveil a study of the area produced by Community Land Use & Economic Group, a consulting firm that tries to help revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods.

A Bullock's department store became the district's first retail anchor when it opened at Lake and Colorado in 1947, in what was then mostly a residential area. Now the store is a Macy's and office towers dominate the district, which has more than 300 businesses and an average daytime workplace population of more than 56,000, according to the South Lake Business Assn.

In 2010, South Lake Avenue generated $1.8 million in sales tax revenue for the city. That's about 7% of the $26.5-million citywide total, but district merchants want to plot out a long-term plan.

"The bar is set very high. People have memories of South Lake Avenue when I. Magnin, Lord & Taylor and Bullock's were the premier department stores," Tornek told the Pasadena Sun. "When people see there are vacancies, discount stores or nail salons, they don’t think it meets the high-end benchmark."

-- Adolfo Flores, Times Community News

Photo: Shoppers walk along South Lake Avenue between San Pasqual Street and Del Mar Boulevard in Pasadena last week. Credit: Cheryl A. Guerrero / Times Community News