Budget Crisis Kills Projects | City Hall Hotel Scrapped, School District Land Swap Still Negotiating

Two controversial projects ultimately abandoned in the face of the fiscal crisis brought on by COVID-19

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Both the land swap RFP for the school district headquarters and City Hall redevelopment plans have been scrapped due to budget issues in South Pasadena

Due to “unforeseen budget issues,” the City of South Pasadena will not be moving forward with a controversial plan to explore the redevelopment of three downtown city-owned properties and the school district’s nearby headquarters building, including the possibility of replacing city hall with a hotel. Under the proposed schedule, the city was hoping to award a contract in April and have a plan in place by August.

Six prospective contractors bid on the request for proposals the city issued for a “hospitality feasibility study.” The RFP went out March 10, a week before the city declared a local emergency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and began implementing provisions of the county health officer’s stay-at-home order that shut down much of the economy and led to steep reductions in projected city revenue from fees and sales taxes.

The bidders were AECOM, HR&A Advisors, HVS, Jones Lang LaSalle, Newmark Knight Frank, and REVPAR, the city said in an email.  The email left open the possibility that the study could be rebid, saying the city was not going forward “at this time.” But a spokesperson for one of the contractors, HVS of Los Angeles, said they were told the project was canceled.

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In November, the South Pasadena Unified School District put out its own RFP for an “exchange of property” concerning its 1.9-acre District office facility at 1020 El Centro. Bids were due Feb. 28.

The District is currently reviewing proposals, Superintendent Geoff Yantz told the South Pasadenan News, with negotiating sessions occurring during closed session at School Board meetings. “If terms and conditions are agreeable for a particular proposal, the School Board [will] make the final decision in open session.” He said the process may take a few months to a year to complete.

According to a note on the School Board’s closed session agenda for May 12, the Superintendent had a conference with the District’s Glendale property consultant concerning an “unidentified number of potential parties who may be interested in acquiring the property,” at least one of whom is known to be Greenbridge Investment Partners, which last month got city approval for an 86-unit senior housing apartment adjacent to its office building at 625 Fair Oaks.

The conference notes said instructions to negotiators “will concern consideration of issues associated with seeking parties interested in potentially acquiring the identified property as they relate to price and terms of payment.”


Ben Tansey
Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.