Councilman Hopes to Build Senior Housing on Foothill Boulevard

A new senior housing complex is scheduled to be proposed at 600 Foothill Blvd., currently the site of First Church of Christ, Scientist that will vacate the location.
Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
A new senior housing complex is scheduled to be proposed at 600 Foothill Blvd., currently the site of First Church of Christ, Scientist that will vacate the location.

A prominent city official is part of a group spurring a new plan to build a senior housing complex at a Foothill Boulevard site where a previous outfit hoped to construct housing for older people before the effort fizzled.
City Councilman Jonathan Curtis, co-owner of the property, said plans to build the facility at the site that is being vacated by the First Church of Christ, Scientist, could be ready within a year. Curtis, who said he would not be involved in any City Council deliberation or vote on the issue, said the project would focus on senior housing, as opposed to low-income housing, and could be ready for consideration by a city commission in about six months.
The complex would be located at 600 Foothill Blvd., site of the proposed 72-bed Oakmont Senior Living facility that was met with opposition in January 2018. The Planning Commission decided it needed more time to consider the project after hearing more than four hours of testimony. Residents had concerns about traffic and other impacts of the proposal.
Curtis said the current proposal is a “continuation and a refinement” of the Oakmont proposal.
“What we see is there’s a huge demand and desire for senior housing in La Cañada,” Curtis said. “I think there’s an opportunity to have a mixed-use type of project, including seniors and [people ages] 55 and above. By having that, you don’t have the impacts to schools.”
Curtis said on Tuesday he is part of a group called 600 Foothill Owner, L.P., that recently purchased the property for $4.2 million.
LCF resident and actor Michael Gross, a member of the community group Together La Cañada, said his group is looking forward to constructive dialogue about the project.
“Many members of Together La Cañada are concerned about density, parking, traffic and safety on what is already a very dangerous corner,” Gross said.
Curtis said the project would complement the downtown area.
“You’d have some more seniors, some people here,” Curtis said. “Seniors get out to go to the grocery store, go to restaurants, Gelson’s across the street, multiple churches. We think it’s an idea for the more active seniors and it would be very complementary for downtown.”
A zoning change would have to be made for the downtown specific plan, Curtis said.
“It’ll have to go through the normal city process,” said Curtis.
Curtis said the layout of the project — which he described as mixed use and for active seniors, with some type of office component instead of Oakmont’s focus on assisted living and memory care — is still being worked out with an architectural firm.
“It could be a community type of office or something else,” Curtis said. “But there’s demand for office [space]. People I’ve heard from are very gracious and excited for this type of opportunity. Of course, people look forward to seeing the details, and when we have them ready to discuss we will welcome people’s input.”
The architects are “top notch” and do a lot of “cutting-edge and mixed-use type of projects that are compatible with the community,” Curtis said. “One of them even lives in town, too.” He declined to name the firm for now.
Curtis said the property will not be similar to Glendale’s Twelve Oaks Senior Living, which has cottages. His complex’s residents would be “much more active” and the property would have lots of amenities, as well as parking that would be partially underground to keep its height down.
He declined to get into specifics about when he became interested in the property, but said his group did not get involved until Oakmont had decided to pull out.
Dee Thiesmeyer, president of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, executive board, confirmed the sale and said the close of escrow for the church’s future location at 827 Foothill Blvd. is now planned this Friday, Oct. 11. That date is when the 15-day appeal of the church’s permit request for the building expires.
“It’ll take probably six months to remodel the interior” of the new location, said Thiesmeyer, who added that the church is currently renting its current location until it can move. The new site “will be a Christian Science Reading Room and bookstore, and you see what we have here. We need a place for display of books and a place to sell books.”
Thiesmeyer said she is looking forward to the move.
“Here we kind of sit back” on Foothill, she said of the current church building, which is not near the boulevard. “We’re looking forward to being right on the street and having a pretty little bookstore.”

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