Civic Center Coalition

Civic Parklands endangered by hotel development. Give-away of public land defies a vote of the people.


Who Is the Civic Center Coalition?

We are Pasadena residents who are passionate about our city. We are architects, economists, urban planners, real estate investors, historians, preservationists and community activists. We came together when we learned that the City Manager’s proposal for a massive hotel development on the entire YWCA block will eviscerate all public parkland and gardens directly across from City Hall and encroach on the Pasadena Robinson Memorial.

This Place Matters!

Voters approved the Bennett Plan in 1923 and also authorized a bond to purchase the land to build City Hall, the Library, and the Civic Auditorium, including the grounds and approaches. The land chosen for the Civic Center was next to the YWCA building. By 2012, the YWCA sat derelict and abandoned. The City bought it but set out to get the purchase price back by offering it up to a private developer.

In Closed Session and in the offices of the City Manager, a decision was made to “throw in” the Public Parkland. Without any public input, a deal was struck with Kimpton hotels, who wants to build a 6-story hotel on the parkland. In January 2015, Kimpton was acquired by another large international hotel group, and the YWCA building and Civic Center gardens were purchased by a private real estate equity firm. This firm is not planning an intimate, boutique "Kimpton" hotel like those developed by Kimpton founder, Bill Kimpton. This “fire sale” mentality not only undermines our beautiful Civic Center, but defies the will of the people. “Heritage” leaders have been so focused on saving the YWCA that they are willing to cannibalize one historic resource for another. And, they are willing to disrespect the memorial to Mack & Jackie Robinson.

What Do We Want?

  • Recognition that the Pasadena Civic Center—City Hall and the garden-like setting— is the heart of our city and is the highest priority.
  • Honor the values and efforts of the Pasadena citizens who had the vision to create the 1923 Bennett Plan and make the investment to carry out that vision. Continue the hundred-year-old legacy they entrusted to us.
  • A better-designed project compatible with the Civic Center’s architectural and cultural traditions.
  • Save and restore the parkland gardens to what was intended.
  • A rehabilitated YWCA building.

From our Perspective