“Greening” makeover of Pasadena’s Euclid Villa to begin in August

By Janette Williams, Staff Writer
Pasadena Star News

PASADENA – A $1.1 million county grant will fund a “green” makeover of a historic mansion and a 1940s apartment building where a succession of homeless families has lived since 1999.

The project will provide the “best and most recent improvements” in energy-saving techniques at the Euclid Villa complex, said Rabbi Marvin Gross, CEO of Union Station Homeless Services.

“It will provide efficient heating and cooling and related service to all the families there,” Gross said. “It will help us contain our costs for operation, which are always of concern, and we feel grateful for what we’ve received.”

Union Station runs Euclid Villa Transitional Housing on an annual $190,000 budget.

The project is the first and, so far, only project to be funded under Los Angeles County’s City of Industry Moderate Rehab program, Pasadena’s Housing Manager William Huang said.

Cities without homeless services or affordable housing are required by the county to allocate redevelopment funds to other cities. Under a state agreement, Huang said, Industry’s contribution must be used within 15 miles of the city.

City of Industry Mayor Dave Perez said Monday that he was “elated” to hear how his city’s $1,118,361 was being used.

“I’m glad to see the money being spent, and the key is that it’s money being spent for the needy,” Perez said. “I’m glad the money is going to this project.”

The two buildings – the 8,800-square-foot mansion and a 10,400-square-foot 1940s residential building – provide apartments for 14 families, plus staff offices, a common kitchen, computer lab, community rooms and children’s area.

The families may stay up to two years, and graduate from the program to permanent housing, said Gil Nelson Euclid Villa’s site manager.

“We have a lot of needs – we always have,” he said. “The main building at 154 S. Euclid is over 100 years old and, when you have a place with a lot of children in particular, there’s a lot of wear and tear … But this is a big start, definitely.”

There are challenges to “greening” a mansion on the National Register of Historic Places, designed by Castle Green architect Fredrick Roehrig and built in 1898 as a dormitory for Miss Orton’s Classical School for Girls.

“We sat down and talked about the pros and cons, and in the long run it will cut utility expenses,” said Union Station’s Dana Bean, who wrote the grant application in consultation with the city.

Pasdena’s Department of Water and Power chipped in more than $165,000 for photovoltaic solar power, dual flush toilets and water-conserving shower-heads. Besides new flooring and paint, the project will include wall insulation, drought-tolerant landscaping, energy-efficient appliances and lighting and window-replacement, except in the historic building.

One of the grant requirements was that none of the tenants be “displaced or inconvenienced” during the rehab project, Bean said.

Nelson will be there to see that the tenants’ lives aren’t disrupted.

“I’ve got to be honest, I haven’t a clue” how the tenants will be worked around, Nelson said. “I don’t think we’ve got to that step yet.”

The project will start in August and should be completed by March, 2011.

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