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Big changes to Peppertree Square are brewing

Two aspiring Peppertree Square businesses are getting closer to reality.

A code amendment to allow Campsite Brewing Company, an upcoming brewpub co-owned by Christian and Kate Hartenstein, to open in the south Claremont shopping center got the go-ahead from the Claremont city council last week.

The amendment is a huge hurdle cleared for the Hartensteins, who now have to apply for a conditional use permit (CUP) before opening their restaurant. They expect to open Campsite in Spring 2019, Mr. Hartenstein said in a previous interview with the COURIER. 

The amendment to chapter 16.051 of the Claremont municipal code also paves the way for a new gym, Fitness 19, to apply for a CUP to open in the anchor space at Peppertree Square. For years, the city has tried unsuccessfully to secure a grocery store in the 19,528-square-foot space, with officials stating most grocery retailers found the space too small.

The city said they had been working with a number of grocers with the hope of opening a supermarket in the anchor space—including Aldi, Grocery Outlet, Smart & Final, Barons Market and Whole Foods. Trader Joes, which opened on Foothill Boulevard in 2008, is 12,000 square feet.

However, the city said grocers wanted a minimum 30,000 square feet of space, and were also concerned about the location and market oversaturation. An effort to secure a Walgreens Pharmacy in 2010 also fell through.

“For some reason that just faltered,” said Nick Quackenbos, broker-partner at Claremont’s Q-Bell Commercial Real Estate, in a previous interview with the COURIER.

The beleaguered shopping center—which is owned by a group of Hong Kong investors, and is managed by an Irvine company, Red Rock Management, with Mr. Quackenbos serving as the local broker-partner—currently has the highest vacancy rate in the city at 53 percent, according to Community Development Director Brad Johnson. The city has tried to revitalize the space, which included an extensive remodel a few years ago.

Mr. Johnson was clear the amendment would only allow the production of beer on site as long as a restaurant is attached.

Bob Gerecke, a resident of south Claremont, was glad to see the city making progress in attracting businesses to Peppertree Square.

“It would be good for the whole neighborhood to have more businesses there and more services available to us,” he said.

John Chen, who represented the owners of the shopping center, urged the council to approve the amendment, calling it a win for both Peppertree Square and the Hartensteins.

“This is really a project both sides believe in, and one of our last remaining hurdles is to get the code amendment through so the owner can submit the CUP,” he said.

Mr. Hartenstein also spoke during public comment, noting that they would put an emphasis on making the brewpub as family-friendly as possible, including installing a playground for kids on site.

“It’s been kind of a dream and goal of mine throughout my career as a brewer to open my own brewpub,” he said. “And so when we fell in love with Claremont, there was no other place I wanted to open it except Claremont.”

The council unanimously voted in favor of the amendment, 5-0.

“This is truly one of those where patience pays off, because this is a great fit for Peppertree Square,” Councilmember Sam Pedroza said.