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New Flintridge Bookstore taking shape

Project bucks trend toward e-books, shuttered bookstores.

October 07, 2010|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Valley…)

A new commercial development at Foothill Boulevard and Chevy Chase Drive that will house the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffee House is expected to open for business shortly after the holidays, owners Peter and Lenora Wannier said this week.

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council tentatively agreed Monday to absorb about 30% of costs, or roughly $30,000, of off-site improvements for the project, including landscaping elements and street lighting.

"This project is really a masterful project for the city, in my opinion," Councilman Dave Spence said to Peter Wannier. "It has been a horribly ugly corner for years and years, and we do appreciate your efforts and your financial support in making this look like a piece of property that belongs in La Cañada Flintridge."

The new building is taking shape even as bookstores, both independent and franchised, close their doors and electronic reading devices become increasingly popular.

"I think that [an independent bookstore] makes us a little bit unique, because most of the bookstores have gone the way of the buggy whip," said Pat Anderson, chief operating officer of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce. "A lot of people like to go into a bookstore, they like the aroma of a bookstore. There is something about feeling the books and thumbing through the pages."

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The Wanniers purchased the 12,800-square-feet corner lot at 1010 Foothill Blvd. in 2006. In the summer of 2007, they opened the Flintridge Bookstore just a few doors down (in a space that used to be the Totta & Sons Automotive Center) with the intent of moving to the new location shortly thereafter.

But there were unexpected delays, Peter Wannier said. The site was once a gas station, and as excavation began, contractors found corroded fuel tanks. They had to suspend work and remove 1,000 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated soil.

In addition, in April 2009 a big-rig truck veered out of control while traveling south on Angeles Crest Highway and crashed into the bookstore's current location, destroying merchandise and disrupting business.

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