By Alex Distefano
What’s in a name? In downtown Pomona, apparently a lot.
The city of Pomona is very rich in history. But for two distinctive earmarks of that history—downtown’s “Arts Colony” and “Antique Row” signs and arches—some renovation is planned, but not everyone approves the changes.
The Downtown Pomona Owners Association (DPOA), is proposing to reconfigure the two distinctive arches and signs to draw attention to “Downtown” more prominently rather than “Antique Row” or “Arts Colony.”
But for the downtown business owners, tenants and artists who say the signs bring unique flair to the Pomona Arts Colony, the DPOA’s idea is simply wrongheaded.
Terry Dipple, the owner of Inked Chronicles, a Colony-based tattoo arts and piercing business on Second Street, tells the Weekly that he’s against the idea to change the signs. They should be kept the way they are, he adds, and Dipple says he is not alone in this sentiment.
“I want the signs there because they are iconic landmarks for Pomona,” he says, adding that he learned about the plan about four months ago. “I guess one of the main points to me is that every city has a downtown, and our signs prove that we have more; something different to offer.”
“Pomona is unique because we have a vibrant area with the Arts Colony, and the signs are identified with it—not just for me, but many other business owners who feel the same way.”
But the DPOA says the downtown sign matter is somewhat of a misunderstanding. DPOA president Carolyn Hemming assures the Weekly that the “Arts Colony” and “Antique Row” signs aren’t going anywhere. The plan is to replace the lettering across the 15-year-old arch with the words “Downtown” and to erect “Antiques” and “Arts Colony” lettering along the sides of the arches, according to the DPOA and Photoshop images of the proposal obtained by the Weekly.
The Photoshopped images also show “Dining & Entertainment” signage opposite the proposed “Antiques” signage, and “Shops” signage opposite the proposed “Arts Colony” lettering.
“The downtown is more than just art or antiques,” Hemming says. “It’s more than just one or two things.”
The DPOA’s www.downtownpomona.org website says “Metro Pomona is home to the Arts Colony, a huge collection of galleries, shops and artists lofts. The neighborhood has become a canvas for beautiful murals, sculpture and architecture. Visitors can shop for art large and small, and see everything from international exhibits to group shows of emerging artists, to studio tours of master artisans.”
“We want to more or less unify the area,” she adds. “[The arches] will say ‘Downtown’ across the top, and there would be two arches for the ‘Arts Colony’ and ‘Antique Row.’ We also want to add more signs that say ‘retail,’ ‘shops,’ ‘arts’ and ‘entertainment.’ So, these original signs will not be removed or replaced.”
Because of some opposition to the sign change, a public stakeholders meeting was held earlier this month to air out and address some of the issues.
The cost for the sign changes will be covered by the DPOA, Hemming said.
“We have 180 businesses in downtown [Pomona and] only 40 or 45 are art-related,” Hemming says. “So the Downtown Pomona Owners Association decided to pay for the renovation, because we think it benefits the entire Downtown area.”