Brea Old and New: The go-to source for "All things Brea"!

brea downtown

  • At last, new downtown parking structure coming soon

    2 years ago by

    Finally we can look forward to having ample packing in the Super Block 1 lot downtown between the old Tower Records building and Taps Fish House & Brewery.

      Construction on the long-awaited and urgently needed parking structure is scheduled to begin in late September.

        The cost for the design, engineering and construction is $10.3 million, not $12 million as previously estimated.

          Funding is coming from the city’s Fixed Asset and Replacement Fund, the Community Benefit and Economic Fund, proceeds from a 2011 bond, a $3.9 million loan from the landfill mitigation fund and a $2.9 million loan from the General Fund. No taxes will, or can, be raised to pay for the parking structure, and the money loaned from the landfill mitigation funds and the general fund are to be repaid.

            The structure would have cost much, much less if back in the 1990s the council had listened to Councilman Roy Moore who envisioned the future need of a parking structure on the eastside of Brea Boulevard.

              According to David Crabtree, Brea’s community development director, the construction of the four-level, 478-space garage will take about a year, and the entire parking lot will be fenced off during that time. Ouch.

                After the parking lot becomes a construction zone, there will be challenges for the Super Block 1 businesses, including Lillie’s Q, Buffalo Wild Wings, the military recruitment offices and Taps, which will all remain open for business, so do patronize them. Valet parking will be available.

                  What will not be available is Brea Downtown’s popular Jazz Festival.

                    Said major downtown property owner, Dwight Manley via email, “The Brea Downtown Owners Association has suspended the Jazz Festival due to the parking lot closure, as well as the money the BDOA is spending to subsidize the valet during that period.”

                      The Brea Downtown Owners Association and the valet company are finalizing a plan offering lower valet rates during the parking lot closure, thanks to the association’s subsidization. That plan will soon be submitted to the city for approval.

                        Crabtree said the valets would park cars at the Gaslight Center, in Super Block 2 and other spots in the downtown.

                          The building of parking structure, however, will not be the only construction zone in the downtown at that time. Manley said Old Navy will be leaving in January, and the new Improv’s construction on that site should begin in February 2017.

                            Maybe when Old Navy is demolished, the wrecking ball will swing wide and take down the very tired-looking Tower building. It has had only temporary renters since Tower Records and Books shut down in 2005. It was a showcase building back then, but not now. And it will only look worse across the street from the razzle-dazzle Improv Entertainment Center with two showrooms, fine dining spots and all the amenities to make it an entertainment destination. Surely it will attract other entertainment venues and new restaurants to the downtown.

                              All the construction will be a pain, but worth celebrating once it is done. Can’t wait.

                                Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications.

  • On track with the Tracks at Brea Trail

    2 years ago by

    Until 2007, trains regularly chugged through Brea, crossing Lambert Road, State College Boulevard and Brea Boulevard. Only one track that crosses Berry Street is still somewhat active.

      Like many cities throughout Southern California, Brea ended up with a lot of ugly, abandoned railroad tracks that carried nothing but weeds, trash and rodents.

        But no longer.

          Back in 2009, the first community meetings were held to find a way to convert the abandoned rails to trails for walking, running and biking, instead of places people dumped trash or old mattresses after dark.

            Through good planning, many grants and keen determination by residents and city staff, The Tracks at Brea is nearly completed. But it hasn’t been an easy task.

              When the project began, Brea was flush with Redevelopment Agency funds. According to Brea’s economic development manager, Kathie DeRobbio, $11 million in redevelopment funds were used for property acquisition and early project planning. Then the California legislature voted to end redevelopment agencies and Brea had to pursue other sources for the project. The city started applying for grants.

                At present, $17.5 million in grants has funded much of the project, including the extensive and expensive soil remediation, design, engineering construction and landscaping.

                  “The council has authorized $1,258,000 in Park Development Funds,” DeRobbio said about the city’s contribution toward the price tag. She added that, depending on the actual costs to be incurred, the city might not spend that entire amount. Those funds are restricted for use only for new recreational facilities.

                    There will be six segments of the 4-mile trail at completion. It starts with Segment I through Arovitsa Park and presently ends behind the west parking structure downtown where Segment 2 will someday begin.

                      But the really big news is the grand opening at 9:30 a.m. on March 26 when Mayor Christine Marrick leads the community through the newly completed Segment 3, a three-quarter-mile jaunt starting by Fire Station No. 2 on Brea Boulevard and meandering east to State College Boulevard.

                        The trails are wonderfully landscaped, park-like paths for strolling with the kids or whizzing through on your bike.

                          Bikers use the two-way, paved paths while walkers and runners use the tan-colored paths made of decomposed granite that is often used for playgrounds.

                            There are no restrooms or drinking fountains yet in Segment 3, but there are public restrooms nearby in the downtown. Go before you go and carry water, especially for the kids. There are disposal stations for dog waste.

                              The next segment nearing completion is No. 5, which wanders through Birch Hills Golf Course. It will have an interpretive historical display, rest area and food and restrooms available. And, you won’t have to duck when someone yells, “Fore!” because the golfers will be playing away from the trail.

                                Segment 4 will continue across State College and travels under the 57 Freeway to Kraemer Boulevard, where Segment 6 will run nearly parallel to Birch Street, ending at Valencia Street.

                                  If you plan to break in Segment 3 with the mayor, DeRobbio suggests parking in east parking structure downtown. Or, you could do what I’m going to do and walk there.

                                    The trail is open daily, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

                                      Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. Contact her at

  • Bruxie featured on Cooking Channel’s Junk Food Flip

    2 years ago by


      Why were all the TV cameras at Bruxie on November 11 and 12? Chefs Bobby Deen, son of comfort food legend Paula Deen, along with New York Chef Nikki Dinki, known for her healthy meal recipes, competed against Bruxie's founders, Dean Simon and Kelly Mullarney, in a “flip” contest in which healthier food options were pitted against popular Bruxie recipes.
      Chefs Bobby Dean, left, and Nikki Dinki, not shown, of the Cooking Channel challenged Bruxie co-founders Dean Simon and Kelly Mullarney to a food face-off in Brea Downtown. Dennis Rodman in background, announced the winner.

      Chefs Bobby Deen, left, and Nikki Dinki, not shown, of the Cooking Channel challenged Bruxie co-founders Dean Simon and Kelly Mullarney to a food face-off in Brea Downtown. Dennis Rodman in background, announced the winner. Courtesy of Susan Gaede

        The show "Junk Food Flip," will air on the Cooking Channel.

          Some 30 or so guests who were dining at the restaurant voted for the meal they liked the best.

            Breans Gabriel Linres, Erin Wedin Wilkinson, Shannon Watson, and Senator Bob Huff among others, took a filmed taste test and voted. Senator Huff said he was happy the Cooking Channel was in town supporting a local business. Other parts of Brea were also filmed.

              Dennis Rodman, former professional basketball player, a resident of Brea, tallied the votes and announced the winners: Simon and Mullarney. They plan to donate the $1,000 prize to a local charity. The winning pair also shared a delicious custard dessert with all of the show participants.
              Bobby Deen was a charmer at the cooking show. Courtesy Susan Gaede

              Bobby Deen was a charmer at the cooking show. Courtesy Susan Gaede

                I got a chance to interview the very personable and charming Bobby Deen, who said he loves to cook every day. He also adores working with his mom, and he was proud of her performance on "Dancing With The Stars." He noted wryly that she lost a lot of weight from dancing, as well as cutting way back on her sweet tea. "Unfortunately, I can’t dance,” he added. He said that the crew had been in Orange County for 10 days, also doing a show in Huntington Beach. He said he loved Brea and that it was a beautiful town, and other VIPs with the show echoed his comments.

                  It has not been decided when the episode will air, but I will be sure to keep you updated.

                    Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle at (714) 529-8561 or e-mail her at

  • Improv plan could be a windfall

    3 years ago by

    A huge opportunity was placed in the City Council’s lap. Now what will they do with it?

      At the May 5 City Council study session, Stu Schreiberg of the Improv Corporation and Dwight Manley, a major Brea Downtown property owner, gave a brief presentation of a proposed Brea Improv that has little resemblance to the present one on Brea Boulevard.

        The new Improv would move to the corner of Brea Boulevard and Birch Street, presently housing Old Navy. Manley Fanticola, owners of that property plan to spend more than $10million to tear down and replace that building with a 41,000-square foot, two-story Improv.

          “The Improv will invest heavily in the interior buildout,” said Manley via email.

            This new Improv would have a commanding and exciting exterior and feature large theater auditoriums on both floors, two fine dining restaurants and outdoor seating on both levels. Besides comedy, this Improv would feature live plays and musical productions. It would be, according to Schreiberg, an entertainment destination.

              He also said that Improv Corporation plans very soon to open five of these mega Improv theaters around the country in such places as San Francisco, Nashville, New York and Brea Downtown.

                It would put Brea on the SoCal entertainment destination map and add a new level of sophistication and excitement to the downtown.

                  Quite a windfall for Brea, right? But the air could quickly blow out of that windfall if another parking structure is not built on the eastside of Brea Boulevard, behind the very vacant former Tower building. Without it, the Improv will go elsewhere. Their present lease ends in 2016.

                    This is a huge opportunity for Brea and it all hinges on securing a new parking structure. You can’t build an entertainment venue with theater seating for nearly 600 people plus the restaurants without adequate, convenient parking. Such a parking structure will benefit not only the property owners, but also all of us who will benefit from the tax dollars the Improv Entertainment Center brings to Brea, and it can’t hurt our own property values either.

                      Our city leaders made the right decision in the 1970s with the very successful Brea Mall that could easily been built in another city along 57 Freeway. Do we want to see the new Improv be built in Fullerton or elsewhere in Orange County, when it could be built in Brea? I sure don’t.

                        What I am sure of is if you missed the fourth annual “Celebration of Brea’s Sister Cities” at the Curtis Theatre at the Brea Civic Center on May 3, you missed an evening of outstanding entertainment.

                          Presented by the Brea Korea Sister City Association, it featured a wide variety of music and dance representing Korea, Japan, Mexico and the USA, including the terrific the Brea Olinda High School Jazz Band. Also terrific was the very talented Korean American Youth Performing Artists who did amazing drum dances. All of the other dancers and singers were also outstanding.

                            Proceeds from the celebration will help Brea students to travel to our sister city of Anseong, Korea.

                              Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. Contact her at

  • Council discusses golf course, downtown parking

    3 years ago by

    The Brea City Council chambers were dark Jan. 6, but the council still met that night in its usual third-floor conference room for a public study session followed by a closed session.

      In the past, the first council meeting in January was usually canceled, but not this year.

        Mayor Marty Simonoff went forth with a study session agenda of only two items: an amendment to the Birch Hills Golf Course lease agreement and another parking structure in Brea Downtown. The meeting lasted three hours, with productive discussion by all of the council.

          The council first discussed the lease amendment. The amendment would change the threshold of responsibility for repairs for the Birch Hills Golf Course as part of the lease agreement with Imperial Golf, which will operate the course and clubhouse. The current agreement makes the city responsible for repairs when they reach $5,000. The amendment changes that threshold to $50,000.

            Matt Clabaugh, representing Imperial Golf, said the company would meet with Brea’s staff regarding the amendment. He added that the company plans to use two modulars for the clubhouse and pro shop until a permanent clubhouse is built and that an attractive clubhouse draws more golfers and higher green fees, something a couple of golfers on the council disagreed with.

              The council also discussed a parking structure for Superblock 1, behind the vacant Tower building in Brea Downtown. As I wrote last May, without an additional parking structure in that block facing Brea Boulevard, Brea Downtown will die. One by one, the successful and popular venues will go away, and instead of a downtown, we will have a deadtown.

                Mark Caplow of E.M. Caplow and Associates, owners of the 30,000-square-foot Tower building, said that the one thing holding up a long-term lease of the building is the lack of parking behind it.

                  “I’ve had inquires about it from several high-end companies, but without adequate parking, they don’t want it,” Caplow said. While the former and current councils tend to favor a parking structure with mixed space for commercial or residential use, the downtown owners prefer a parking-only structure behind Tower with a bridge extending across Birch Street to what is now Old Navy. The Brea Improv has plans to take over that spot and transform it into its new comedy club-nightclub concept, like it has done in Irvine. However, it will need more parking.

                    The city’s mixed-use proposal for $13.2million adds 444 spaces, in contrast to an all-parking design by Caplow and Dwight Manley – another major Brea Downtown property owner – that they said can be built for $5million and adds 501 parking spaces. Either way, more parking will keep downtown from becoming deadtown.

                      Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at

  • Farrell’s “Thank You” Sundae for Veterans and Active Military

    4 years ago by

      Hooray for the Red White and Blue! Veterans and current military men and women this weekend just got sweeter with a very special, and completely FREE, “All American Red, White and Blue Thank You Sundae” through Veterans Day, Tuesday November 11 – - compliments of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour restaurants including, Farrell’s Brea Downtown, Buena Park, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Mission Viejo, Sacramento or Santa Clarita.

        There is no purchase necessary but it cannot be combined with any other special or offer. Acceptable ID's include a U.S. Uniform Services ID Card (active/reserve/retired), Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), Photograph of yourself in uniform, Veterans Organizations Card (e.g., American Legion and VFW), DD214 or discharge paperwork.

          So stop by Farrell’s and enjoy a patriotic delicious sundae made 'Just For You' with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, blueberry compote, strawberry topping, whipped cream, a cherry, and, of course, an American flag proudly waving atop the whole thing! Also, non-military guests may purchase the Sunday for $7.76.

  • The Ultimate Halloween Kidz Block Party 2014

    4 years ago by

      Right in our own backyard is the biggest Halloween block party in North Orange County. On Halloween night from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., join The Cause Community Church for Kidz Block Party held in Brea Downtown. With over 30 midway game booths, rock climbing wall, giant inflatable slides and rides, face painting, balloon art, live bands…. and over 250,000 pieces of candy, you and yours will be dazzled! And to top if off - admission is FREE. Can't beat that!

  • Kool weekend ahead for the 12th Annual Brea Jazz Festival

    4 years ago by

      Who’s tired of this heat, setting an all-time record warmest year to date – not to mention our severe drought! On the positive side, the evenings are getting a bit cooler as fall is coming, making next weekend’s annual Jazz Festival held in Brea Downtown that much sweeter. Save the date as this year’s 12th annual Brea Jazz Festival is ONLY three days – Friday, September 19 – Sunday 21.

  • Spend Father’s Day at the 10th Annual Cruisin’ Brea Car Show

    4 years ago by

    2013 Annual Cruisin’ Brea Car Show (courtesy Carolyn Campbell)

      For the past 10 years, thousands upon thousands have spent Father’s Day at the Annual Cruisin’ Brea Car Show. Hosted by the Orange County Mustang Club (OCMC) and held in Beautiful Brea Downtown, this show entertains not just pop but it’s got something for the whole family.

        On June 15, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., this year’s venue will feature well over 200 vehicles of all makes, models and years, a beer and wine garden, live entertainment including Outerwave (surfer band based out of Brea), Gear (British Invasion band), Rockford (80’s rock band) and DJ “Retro Rick,” along with a chance to win many prizes throughout the day such as a 19" LED HDTV, electronic tablet, and men's bicycle. And finally strolling through Brea Downtown you’ll spot the perfect places to shop and dine and catch a movie if you’re so inclined!

          Last year while working for Brea Downtown, I had the pleasure to create an album on Brea Downtown's Facebook fan page. The album features 58 photos of people who visited the car show at various times throughout the event to spend a happy Father's Day in Brea Downtown. Take a look, who know's? Maybe you or someone you know was spotted!

  • Safe and Sound at Brea Gateway Downtown

    4 years ago by

    From left, Ivan Magdaleno and Joseph Acevedo standing outside of their office at Brea Gateway Downtown.

      Brea is boring, says Joseph Acevedo and Ivan Magdaleno, security guards at Brea Gateway Downtown. Aside from being a Northern Orange County destination for shopping, dining and entertainment, their assessment is on the mark. Are we complaining? I think not!

        Both young men aspire to be police officers. They take their job seriously working different shifts that overlap an hour each day. Anyone who frequents downtown has passed their office, which is very nondescript other than looking like a tiny janitorial supply room next to Cost Plus World Market. Open the door and there is one lawn chair and a bicycle.

          Each day they set out on foot or bicycle patrolling the center, checking each building, looking for graffiti (which seldom occurs), giving out tickets for those who double park, park in handicapped spots and are not disabled, and exceed the 3-day maximum parking limit.

            Other than a homeless man who for a short period of time was staying at Brea Gateway Downtown, there really haven’t been any problems, with the exception of the children who run amok riding their skateboards and bicycles. When confronted by Joseph and Ivan, most of the kids disregard the notice. So that is an ongoing battle that Joseph and Ivan are diligently on top of.

              Just like their office, you may not take notice, but they’re keeping us safe and deserve praise for their good job. No doubt they will make fine police officers someday.

                Thanks to their efforts, we’re boring.