Neighbors mull redevelopment of 500-acre Fairplex in Pomona

Plan would create 11K homes, 1.1M sf of shops and restaurants

Fairplex's Walter Marquez and Fairplex at 1101 West McKinley Avenue (Fairplex)
Fairplex's Walter Marquez and Fairplex at 1101 West McKinley Avenue (Fairplex)

Faced with redevelopment plans for the nearly 500-acre home of the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, some residents say, Not so fast.

Plans to reshape the Fairplex at 1101 West McKinley Avenue got a mixed response from residents who attended a recent open house, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported.

The primary concern about plans to build up to 10,500 homes at the fairgrounds site was noise and traffic. Others welcomed the needed housing and open space.

“The Fairplex as we know it today is going to be completely gone,” said Nancy Pivac, a Pomona resident who lives near Gate 17 on McKinley Drive. “More cars, people and noise, we already have enough of that as it is.”

The county-owned Fairplex, run by the Los Angeles County Fair Association, is crafting a development plan for potential mixed-use projects for the northwest Pomona site.

In August, the Fairplex floated early details of its specific plan, including the new housing, 1.1 million square feet of shops and restaurants, and 200 acres of open space, which would turn the fairgrounds into a year-round draw.

Any plan to redevelop the former beet field would feature the annual L.A. County Fair, Fairplex CEO Walter Marquez said. That would include the Auto Club Raceway, which each year hosts National Hot Rod Association drag races.

A fairgrounds redevelopment would include four proposed districts: Wellness Village, Agri-hood, Cultural Hub and a Preserve, each to include distinctive features and attractions.

While some aspects of the redevelopment plan were favorable, the proposed housing and green space deviate from what the fairgrounds campus was built for, said Fairplex Association member Ron Vander Molen.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“It’s really just slowly chipping away from what the Fairplex is all about — entertainment,” Vander Molen said. “I would still love to see aspects of this plan, but there are a lot of questions.”

La Verne Mayor Tim Hepburn said that, while he favors new development, “there needs to be consideration of nearby residents’ concerns.”

Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval said the early plans present an opportunity to meet an obvious regional need for housing and green space.

“We’re still early in this process but there is without a doubt a need for all these things.” Sandoval said.

Any new development is a good thing, Pomona resident Art Sutton said. Having attended the L.A. County Fair for decades, the change would be welcome.

“It needs to change, that’s part of life,” Sutton said. “Change can be uncomfortable but I like it.”

The fairgrounds redevelopment would require an environmental review and the approval of a specific plan, or land-use plan for zoning future development. Since more than 95 percent of Fairplex is within Pomona city limits, the city is the lead permitting agency.

— Dana Bartholomew

Read more