Campus site to be urban village.
Plans for idealab! move have fallen through.
October 03, 2000
By Janette Williams
10/3/00 Pasadena Star News
PASADENA -Plans to build a single-tenant, million-square-foot office block on the former Ambassador College campus in Old Pasadena have fallen through.
The east campus development site -now officially dubbed "The Village in Old Pasadena," with the west campus named "Carmelita" --will revert to its original urban village concept, said Bill Shubin of Legacy Partners, the Orange County-based developer.
Earlier this year idealab!, the Old Pasadena-based e-commerce incubator company that has spawned such firms as PETsMART.com and Ticketmaster Online-City Search, was expected to move there from its present digs on West Union Street, Shubin said.
"Back in the springtime they had expressed some interest in the east campus, to build their own corporate headquarters there," Shubin said. "They had a change of plans, so we're proceeding forward with the original urban village plan."
Idealab! never signed a deal, company spokeswoman Teresa Bridwell said Monday.
"It was never announced, only rumored," Bridwell said. "We decided in June the 160,000 square feet we already have in Pasadena was adequate for our needs."
Bridwell said the decision had nothing to do with the recent rash of layoffs in the dot.com business sector, including drastic cutbacks announced Friday at Old Pasadena's drDrew.com, a sex-related advice and health site targeted at young adults.
"All this was decided before that occurred," Bridwell said. "We have had no layoffs and we've just expanded regionally and opened offices in New York, Boston, Silicon Valley and London."
Brian League, the city's project manager on the Ambassador development, one of the largest in the city's history, said he had "mixed feelings" about the loss of a greater high-tech presence in Old Pasadena.
"Everyone was caught up in the Internet mania, and we wanted to make sure Pasadena was not left behind," League said. "But (the urban village) is more true to the community vision in the original Western Gateway Specific Plan."
City Manager Cynthia Kurtz said the "less intense" use of the site as an urban village would be easier to shepherd through the planning process.
"It was going to be a really challenging development to do in a way that would be sensitive to all the surrounding areas," Kurtz said. "While I don't mind taking a challenge on sometimes, seeing an easier path to a high quality development can mean a sigh of relief from a city manager."
Councilman Steve Madison, whose district includes the former Ambassador College campus, said the idealab! expansion would have been an ideal economic boost for the city.
"I'm actually hopeful there may yet be a future there for idealab!," he said.
City officials said they were pleased with the names chosen by a local committee from about 60 entries in a contest run by the developer. The winning names came from Don H. Anderson and Paul Duffy, who will each have $1,000 donated to a charity of their choice.
Duffy's winning suggestion for the west campus, "Carmelita," meaning "little garden," refers to the turn-of-the-century Carmelita Mansion and its 42-acre garden. The house was torn down in 1968 to build the Pasadena Art Museum, now the Norton Simon Museum of
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