Business and Industry

The people of Arcadia are living in exciting times, according to Jason Kruckeberg, assistant city manager and development services director for Arcadia.

Residents enjoy a high quality of life, thanks to an increasingly healthy local economy, and they are about to start enjoying public transportation in the form of the Metro Foothill Gold Line train which will be fully operational by 2016, allowing commuters to travel around the metropolitan area without getting on the gridlocked freeways.

In the planning stages for more than a decade, the Foothill Gold Line will connect the people of Arcadia and other nearby communities in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains with Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

“We are also poised to take full advantage of the new commuter hub that is being constructed at First Avenue and Santa Clara Street in our downtown area and leverage it on behalf of our downtown businesses. In fact, a new business improvement district has recently formed in our downtown. The Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association is active and motivated and has been meeting to discuss such issues as parking, special events, zoning and land use,” Kruckeberg stated.

Residents should also be pleased that new life has been breathed into the community’s major economic engine, Santa Anita Park, a thoroughbred racetrack that is synonymous with Arcadia. The ownership of the 81-year-old track has, according to Kruckeberg, invested millions in substantial improvements to the facility and into enhancing its slate of special off-season events and concerts in an effort to introduce a whole new group of people to the track.

“These improvements have really helped keep horse racing a relevant and exciting sport and have greatly enhanced the visitor experience,” he stated.

Santa Anita, which many consider to be the most beautiful racetrack in the world with its breathtaking view of the San Gabriel Mountains, hosts some of the most prominent racing events in the United States during their fall and spring meets, including both the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap. They have also hosted the Breeders’ Cup on numerous occasions.

Neighboring Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall is another huge employer for Arcadia. They, too, have invested heavily in improvements recently, focusing much of their attention on bringing big name restaurants to their outdoor Promenade and significantly upgrading internal areas of the center to attract high-level tenants, Kruckeberg said.

Methodist Hospital of Southern California, another economic driver for Arcadia, employs scores of people and provides health care for even more. But over the past several years, he explained, the hospital has generated even more economic activity for the city.

“Approximately 104,000 square feet of top-shelf medical office space has been built near the hospital over the last couple of years or is currently under construction,” Kruckeberg said.

“We are also very excited about a new development of 1.6 million square feet of distribution and logistics facilities on an 80-acre former landfill in the southeast corner of the city. It is currently undergoing an environmental review and then we hope to proceed with this exciting re-use of land,” he explained. “Generally speaking, Arcadia is pretty well built-out. It doesn’t have much empty land or many large empty boxes. So this is a unique opportunity.”

In addition, ground will soon be broken on two side-by-side Marriott-owned hotels, featuring a total of 200 guest rooms, and negotiations are underway with Aldi to bring one of their stores to the city.

“Arcadia has a very good balance of commercial businesses and we are trying to maintain that balance,” Kruckeberg said. “We have Santa Anita Park and Westfield Santa Anita, of course, but our many small businesses are just as important to the economy of Arcadia because they bring needed services to our residents.”

“Currently, the city’s attention is focused on a number of fronts. First there is our new business assistance/ombudsman program for businesses which we instituted last year. A member of the city staff is charged with helping individual business people by answering questions and walking them through business expansions and other changes they wish to make,” he explained.

“In addition, we have partnered with the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership to make visits to existing businesses. So far, we have been concentrating on the industrial and technical sectors. These are essentially ‘meet and greets.’ We ask them what they need, what their concerns are, if they need to expand soon, etc. Our goal is to start a conversation and get the business people comfortable with working with the city.”

“Internally, we are also working to revamp our zoning and land use regulations so that we can be nimble and better able to respond to changes as they happen. We will be updating our codes this year, working to streamline them and make them more user-friendly,” Kruckeberg stated.

“We understand that there has been substantial retail retraction everywhere since the recession. So, we need to be able to react to those market changes. We need to be able to allow former retail areas to revitalize themselves and, in some cases, that will involve transitioning those areas to a different land use and bringing residential properties (and the consumers who will live in them) closer to commercial properties,” he said.


City Services

You’d be hard-pressed to find a city that provides more services more effectively and cost-efficiently than Arcadia.

The city is among the safest and the City Council and city staff are both remarkably stable, which creates a sense of security and calm for residents. Streets and sidewalks are kept clean and maintained, and there is seldom any reason to complain about utilities or public works.

Volunteerism is a hallmark of Arcadia with hundreds of volunteers spending tens of thousands of hours contributing to the fabric of the community, whether it be sitting on Commissions, leading classes, or just helping out in the book store at the library. City leaders are often seen engaging and interacting with the community at numerous events and they encourage residents to do the same.

The city and the Chamber of Commerce each publish regular newsletters, directories like this one, calendars and other materials, along with daily updates of their websites.

The city has replaced or remodeled nearly every major city building in recent years except the aging City Hall, which is completing a facelift of its own. A new City Hall is also being considered.


Living in Arcadia

At the peak of the recession in 2010, when home foreclosures were the norm and the housing market in general was in the tank almost everywhere, new homes continued to be built and sold in Arcadia and property values rose more than any other city in Los Angeles County: Plus 4.4 percent.

The majority of new homes built in Arcadia range in size from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet and some are built in excess of 10,000 square feet. The strong resale value of these luxury homes and increased demand for new construction are the main factors that led to this city’s growth.

Another reason for high property values: one of the state’s top public school systems.

Health Care

Residents of Arcadia also enjoy the finest health in the region that begins with Methodist Hospital which recently added a new five-story wing with state-of-the-art technology and amenities (including a view of the golf course out the windows of many hotel-like private rooms).

Seniors

Seniors also get special treatment in Arcadia, with numerous top-notch retirement centers and living facilities that complement the city’s focus on seniors. The spacious and comforting Community Center is primarily the domain of senior activities and socializing among anyone 50-plus years of age. A full slate of day trips and other outings are also offered at nominal fees, as are some meals, classes and workshops, many even offered for free.


Santa Anita Park

From Seabiscuit to Zenyatta, Santa Anita Park has been home to some of the most legendary horses, jockeys, and trainers, and some of the most memorable races in the history of the sport.

The track is also recognized as one of the most majestic in the world. That is why the biggest annual competition between horses from all over the world is so often held at Santa Anita Park. After the first-ever back-to-back Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in 2008-09, the BC booked consecutive events there again in 2012-14 and will return in 2016. Arcadia is also recognized as one of the most gracious and supportive host communities for the 90,000 spectators who flock to the two-day event for days in advance to enjoy all that Arcadia and Southern California have to offer.

Santa Anita Beyond Breeders’ Cup

Santa Anita Park runs three meets per year from late December to mid-April, from late April to late June, and from late September to early November, when races are run Thursdays-Sundays.

But the venue is open to the public 365 days a year. There is no more spectacular setting than sitting at Clockers’ Corner at the west end of the grandstand in the early morning hours, watching dozens of horses working out on the track against the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains.

On any given day you may see movie and TV stars since the track has been host to hundreds of films and series since Charlie Chan and the Marx Brothers filmed movies there in 1936 and 1937.

And, of course, there are the celebrity horses and jockeys associated with Santa Anita. Among them: Seabiscuit, John Henry, Citation, Spectacular Bid and Zenyatta. Plus George “The Iceman” Woolf, Johnny Longden, Willie Shoemaker, Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith.Dec. 25, 1934: Opened Christmas Day with a crowd of more than 30,000.

1940: Seabiscuit wins Santa Anita Handicap in front of crowd of 78,000.

1942-1944: Racing suspended during World War II, when track was initially used for seven months as an assembly center for Japanese Americans, then for two years as Camp Santa Anita – used for an Army ordnance training center and USO shows, and finally to house German prisoners of war for a few months.

May 15-July 7, 1945: All-time season attendance record average of 35,247 per day that still stands – more than 75,000 on Memorial Day and more than 60,000 on July 4.

Jan. 4, 1946: George Woolf dies the morning after a fall during a race at Santa Anita.

March 1, 1947: 85,000-plus attendees

July 29-Aug 12, 1984: Host of Olympics equestrian events; 232,158 people attend; 250 horses represent 31 nations

March 3, 1985: 85,000-plus attendees

1986: Breeders’ Cup

2008-09: First back-to-back Breeders’ Cup host; Zenyatta wins come-from-behind race in 2008: Considered one of the most exciting and amazing ever; 75th anniversary ceremony Dec. 26, 2009; statue and historical marker dedicated

2012-14: First back-to-back-to-back host of Breeders’ Cup – 90,000 attendees over two days

Firsts at Santa Anita
Photo finish
Public address announcer calling the race
Instant electrical timing flashed at intervals during the race for public viewing
Magnetic control gate for simultaneous release at the start
Only turf course in America with a right-hand and downhill slope