Sixty-two parking spaces – yes 62! – that are not on a hill and with enough room to back up. This really is the new Trader Joe’s.
By Mary O’KEEFE
On Friday, the calypso music was playing, Hawaiian shirts were donned and shoppers were everywhere at the Trader Joe’s in Montrose.
“I do a lot of openings, but nothing has come close to the level of energy here,” said Glendale city council member Ara Najarian.
It has been a long journey from rumor to reality for the new market. For years the west end of the Montrose Shopping Park had been vacant since Fred Hauter Ford closed its doors at 2448 Honolulu Ave.
Plans to bring the market into the Montrose Shopping Park area began back in 2007 when former council member John Drayman helped move the idea forward. Drayman was at the grand opening and praised the city for being open to the idea and Trader Joe’s for working so closely with the city and taking local residents’ concerns into consideration.
“A lot of credit goes to the Glendale City Council. They did not know I was going to bring [the market] up at the meeting,” Drayman said.
Originally the city was to build a new fire station 29 at the store’s location at a cost of about $21 million. Then another $5 million was planned to expand the Montrose Library into the former fire station 29 site, Drayman said.
At the time – 2007 – Rockhaven Sanitarium was on the market. Drayman proposed the purchase of the sanitarium as a possible future library and bringing Trader Joe’s into the area.
City manager Jim Starbird was at the opening as well, and pleased with the support from both the community and the market.
“This [market] will bring in $200,000 [annually] and at the same time preserves the Montrose [Shopping Park feel],” he said.
The building took awhile to get to the construction stage. There was a retaining wall that had to be reinforced.
“That took $500,000 more than we had expected,” Starbird said.
“It took four and a half years from that first request until the grand opening to make this improvement a reality,” Drayman said.
The revenue from the market will now go toward the fire station and library projects.
Trader Joe’s and community members worked together on the design of the building. There were several meetings with city officials and a Sparr Heights resident committee.
After a series of meetings between Glendale residents and Trader Joe’s representatives, a design in keeping with the history of Montrose was agreed upon.
“The idea came from Roger’s Valley Drug,” Drayman said. The drug store had inlaid bricks reminiscent of Midwestern styles common in early 1900s Montrose.
The store is also environmentally friendly with the Montrose market being the first Southern California Trader Joe’s market to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certified by the Green Building Council. That design brings a lot of windows that allows the view of local mountains and a stream of sunlight that brightens the entire interior.
“This [store] has brought new life to the area,” said resident Mike Wetzel, a life coach who attended the opening festivities.
He added he liked the design that fit well in with Montrose and that the vacant lot was filled.
“And look at how happy everyone is,” Wetzel said. “I have seen people dancing as they push the carts.”
“We are super excited to have the doors finally opened,” said David Cervantes, Trader Joe’s assistant manager.
The Montrose Trader Joe’s replaces the La Crescenta store. Cervantes said that most of the employees from La Crescenta transferred to Montrose.