In many ways, El Monte and South El Monte are as distinct as any two neighboring cities, alike in name but with separate histories, cultures and governments. But with all their important differences, the two cities are joined by a Chamber of Commerce which supports hundreds of members and highlights their shared reputation as a premiere location for business and industry in Southern California.
El Monte is also known for its many auto dealerships, including Longo Toyota, El Monte Honda, Ross Nissan and Win Hyundai all of which are significant driver of daytime population and sales tax revenue. Currently, plans are in place in the El Monte Center and Auto row area to provide additional entertainment, dining and retail to visiting customers.
“I would consider us to be a business-friendly city, and we’re supportive of both local businesses and business retention, as well as new businesses moving in,” said Jason Mikaelian, city planner.
According to a 2018 economic assessment, the city’s Gateway Specific Plan Area – directly on and visible to Interstate 10 – has the potential to attract higher quality retail, dining and entertainment uses in the city. Likewise, in historic downtown El Monte, redevelopment plans are underway as the city works with property owners to promote a mix of retail, restaurant, office, entertainment, high-end residential and civic and cultural uses. And in the city’s mixed-use corridors there are similar plans to add more retail by revitalizing older real estate into a retail and residential format (retail uses on the ground floor and higher density housing above).
Recent El Monte residential projects include VuePointe and Solstice townhomes, both on Garvey Avenue in the mixed-use corridor. The city has also made veteran housing a priority, with the El Monte Veterans Village and the Baldwin Rose Family Veteran Apartments providing affordable, supportive living for veterans in the Los Angeles area.
El Monte will soon welcome a popular restaurant chain, too – a new 6,800-sqare-foot NORMS Restaurant will create 100-plus jobs when it opens on the corner of Santa Anita Avenue and Valley Boulevard over the summer.
Smaller in area and population than El Monte, South El Monte has nonetheless established itself as a booming industrial center. Since the city was incorporated only six decades ago, the population has grown from 4,000 to more than 20,000 residents, with a daytime population of over 44,000 people. Land use within South El Monte’s 2.8 square miles is 54 percent industrial, 26 percent residential, six percent retail, three percent office/commercial and six percent other amenities. With excellent freeway accessibility to the 10, 60 and 605 freeways, it’s no wonder South El Monte has attracted over 2,400 businesses. The city’s top employers include Vacco Industries, Lawrence Equipment, International Medication Systems, Amro Fabrication, Ted Levine Drum Company, Leader Industries and the greater El Monte Community Hospital.
Residentially, the city hopes to start construction on the first phase of a project that will bring 74 townhome units to Santa Anita Avenue by the end of the summer. Upon completion of the two-phase project, The Horizon townhomes will consist of 125 new units.
“The city is celebrating its 60th anniversary and we’ve had a lot of growth since we were incorporated,” said City Manager Jennifer Vasquez. “With more residential units coming in, the city council has been concentrating on bringing in more retail to serve the community.”
The last 10 years has seen retail growth on a couple of key streets, including Santa Anita and Durfee Avenue. One recent proposal involves rehabilitating some of the existing buildings at the AutoZone property on the corner of Durfee Avenue and Peck Road; AutoZone would then act as the anchor to a few smaller retailers. Future tenants include Waba Grill, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin and Robbins and Rio’s Pizza.
Farther north in South El Monte’s industrial sector, a large 56,000-square-foot building is under construction on Loma Avenue. This space will be used as a warehouse and distribution center for new automotive parts.
“We’re still primarily manufacturing and industrial,” Vasquez said. “But this city council has taken a strong stand on trying to balance commercial, industrial and retail wants. Obviously, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s something that they’re proud of and we’re appreciative of all the businesses that we have.”