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Claremont Village Grows Up

The expansion of the Village west of Indian Hill Boulevard will bring new shops, eateries and an art-house movie theatre near The Claremont Colleges next year.

By Kevin McPhee '07

You've seen the frameworks of buildings rise along the west side of Indian Hill Boulevard. The long-awaited expansion of the Claremont Village is well underway, with new shops, eateries, a movie theater and a hotel expected to open next year.

First up: Arteco Partners is looking to unveil the refashioned Claremont Packing House, on First Street along the southernmost edge of the expansion, in early 2007, according to Chris Veirs of Claremont's Economic Development Department. Earlier plans had the Packing House opening in October, but a fire on the roof in August set construction back several weeks, although it caused only cosmetic damage.

This renovation of the 1922 College Heights Lemon Packing House will be home to restaurants and shops, including a steakhouse offering fine dining and a unique “river” bar; a jazz lounge, modeled after a classic New York loft and featuring live music; and a Mediterranean restaurant complete with live music and belly dance performances. The second floor of the packing house, comprised of live-work lofts, will open at the same time.

Also on First Street, near the intersection with Indian Hill, will be a new 477-space parking structure, which is expected to open by the end of this year.

In addition to the packing house project, the Village Expansion brings an additional 125,000 square feet of new construction north of First and west of Indian Hill, in a project overseen by the Tolkin Group. Among the incoming retail outlets are a number of clothing shops, including American Apparel, as well as a shoe store and a boutique specializing in fine papers and stationery. These stores are expected to open in late spring or early summer 2007. A sushi restaurant, a bistro, an ice cream shop, and several other eateries, including California Pizza Kitchen ASAP (a smaller, faster version of the popular chain) are part of the same development and are due to open during the same time frame.

The expansion will also feature a boutique hotel in the form of a 28-room Four Sisters Inn, which is expected to appeal to visitors to The Claremont Colleges. One of the most anticipated projects in the expansion is the Laemmle Theatres, with five screens and 850 seats, offering a movie selection that will highlight independent and foreign films. Both the hotel and theatre are projected to open in mid-2007.

Claremont's existing Village, sandwiched between Indian Hill Boulevard and The Claremont Colleges, has long been a regional draw with its charming mix of quality restaurants and shops in a quaint, historic setting. Planning for the expansion dates back more than a decade when the city began acquiring land in the area west of Indian Hill between the railroad and Bonita Avenue – which until the 1970s was a hub of citrus farming.

The expansion goes beyond new businesses. At its center will be a plaza with public art, fountains and performance space.