Business is on the rise in Whittier after years in the doldrums following the recession of 2008, as many chain restaurants and shops will opening doors in the city soon.
City Manager Jeff Collier told an audience of about 125 that a number of new businesses are coming to Whittier. Some are already in various stages of construction, and some are going into long-vacant buildings on Whittier Boulevard.
“Things are starting to improve in the local economy,” Collier said Wednesday during his annual State of the City address at the Radisson hotel.
An Applebee’s restaurant and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf are planned on the site of a former Saturn auto dealership, 13809 Whittier Boulevard, and an O’Reilly Auto Parts store is going in the abandoned Blockbuster video store, 11819 Whittier Boulevard.
Also, a Corner Bakery Cafe is moving in the former Boston Market site, also on Whittier Boulevard.
“We’re looking forward to making some new dust,” he said of the planned projects.
However, Collier noted that tax revenue from the new uses will not match what the city once made from its auto dealerships, more than $2.4 million in 2003 and 2004.
Shannon Gimbel-Hammer, president of the Whittier Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event, said she’s happy with the way Whittier is being run.
“I think the city is dong a great job of trying to bring in new businesses and also helping those of us who are already established,” she said. “It’s definitely going to improve the looks of Whittier Boulevard.”
Also on the list of new businesses: a Piology Pizzeria and (Popeye’s) Louisiana Kitchen are going into a site on Washington Boulevard, between Putnam Street and Persing Drive, at a site that’s been vacant for 10 years; and Park Place, an apartment project on the site of a former Toyota used car lot on Whittier Boulevard, will be reviewed by the Planning Commission in July.
There also are plans to occupy the former Albertsons grocery store, 13003 Whittier Blvd., which was closed in February.
Collier said he could not provide additional information because the deal has not been finalized.
“I know who’s going in there, but I can’t tell you,” he said. “They’re working on a lease now. They’re very, very close.”
The new developments come on the heels of several projects that are already under way, such as the LA Fitness gym that will be opening in November on a former Whittier Boulevard site of a Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership, 13840 Whittier Blvd., and the Oakmont Senior Living Facility on a former Buick Pontiac GMC dealership, 13617 Whittier Blvd.
Also, two businesses have opened in Uptown, Concept 7, a foster care and adoption agency, and Local Fixture, a retail shop.
King Taco continues plans to open a Whittier location, Collier said. And Polly’s Pies, 14136 E. Whittier Blvd., where plans to renovate after a January 2013 fire stalled due to the discovery of structural problems, is getting revised bids on the project.
Collier said the state plans to reopen the Whittier Courthouse sometime in the future, but no money has been budgeted for that yet by the Legislature. It could be three to five years before it reopens, he said.
The courthouse was closed over city protests due to a $55 million to $85 million deficit the Los Angeles Superior Court faced in 2013-14. As a result, Whittier-area residents must travel to Downey, Norwalk, Long Beach and Los Angeles for court.
In other highlights:
Police won’t be using the familiar Ford Crown Victoria models in the future, because the model has been discontinued, he said. They will be replaced by Ford Explorers.
Crime fell by 5 percent in 2013.
Whittier College will be starting the renovation of its Stauffer Science building next year.
Southern California Edison will be putting transmission lines underground in 2015 at three locations: Broadway between Whittier and Pickering avenues; the northeast corer of Five Points, and on Colima Road between Whittier and Lambert Road. Edison also will be replacing wooden power poles.