A Dastardly Demolition

Proposed multi-use building at Brea Plaza will mean the destruction of beloved Brea landmarks


Photo by Isabella Abalos / Illustration by Charlize Chiang

A proposal was submitted on July 27 to construct a multi-purpose building, including a hotel, in the center of Brea Plaza, replacing two Brea favorites — the Brea 5 Cinema and Buca di Beppo.

The destruction of Buca di Beppo and the Brea 5 Cinemas is a destruction of what makes Brea, Brea. 

 A proposal by Brea’s Planning Division was submitted on July 27 to construct a multi-purpose building, containing a hotel, apartments, offices, parking, and restaurants, in the center of Brea Plaza. In order to accommodate the construction on the 3.8 acres of land at the corner of South Kraemer Blvd. and Imperial Highway, multiple structures will be demolished. Some of the businesses at risk of being leveled are the 21-year old Buca di Beppo and the recently closed 18-year old Brea 5 Cinemas. 

Buca di Beppo and the Brea 5 Cinemas have a special place in my heart — eating at Buca di Beppo for cross country meetups to eat delicious pizza, and riding to the theatre to watch both old and newly released films with all my pals, are some of my favorite past times. And while the demolition of these old and closed structures may benefit the remaining businesses in the Plaza by attracting new customers to Chipotle, Total Wine, and DSW, it is not worth destroying some of the most recognizable businesses and buildings in Brea.

Location of the proposed multi-use structure. (Google Maps)

Buca di Beppo may be just another chain restaurant to some, and the cinema is no state-of-the-art behemoth like Edwards or AMC, but they add character and color (literally, in Bucca’s case, with its bright neon sign) to the plaza. Bucca has been a staple to the area since 1999, meaning two generations of Brea families have enjoyed the restaurant. 

Roman Giacchetto, freshman, like many BOHS students, has celebrated a birthday there, and enjoyed the restaurant’s “amazing pizza and cool historical photos.” 

Brea 5 has been part of my life ever since I moved to Brea when I was two. The theater, which opened in 2002, was affordable, with evening tickets costing around $5 (versus the $12 and up for the Edwards in Downtown Brea).  Many of my earliest memories are of going with my family to watch second runs of Pixar movies. And this continued as I grew older as I would regularly meetup with friends to watch whatever we were interested in at the moments, from The Lego Movie 2 to Ready Player One. The only reason for the proposed demolition of the theatre, is due to the recent closing of their doors with the pandemic hitting. 

Noah Lovcik, freshman, enjoyed catching shows with his family and noted how the theater was “a great place to be able to see movies if you couldn’t see it the first time, and for a cheaper price.”

These familiar businesses that have been here before some of us were even born are what help Brea retain its “small-town” charm. Places like the high school (in both of its locations), the neon Tower Records sign downtown, and the entirety of Birch Street evoke a unique “only-in-Brea” atmosphere. But with the closing of the Edwards East cinema and the repurposing of the Tower building, these places that gave Brea a distinctly friendly-neighborhood vibe are slowly going away.

There’s also a lot of construction happening throughout the city, and the last thing we need right now is more traffic-snarling construction. 

As someone who lives right next to the Plaza, in Glenbrook, I know how crazy the traffic can get, particularly in the morning while driving to school. I’ve nearly been late for my cross country practices and classes due to the heavy traffic that Imperial brings in right outside my house.

Alexa Labio, junior, said, “Imperial is the worst, especially on rush hour. If it is on Imperial they should definitely consider the traffic that they might be making 100% worse.” 

It is already bad enough where I can barely get to school sometimes. If the project is finalized, it will increase traffic with the new residential and hotel section attracting numerous people plus the restaurants surrounding it will bring many from out of town. More may be merrier, but more, and new, doesn’t always mean better.

There is still time to stop this proposition dead in its tracks, and not just for us, but for future generations of Brea residents. The public hearing about the proposal has been closed since Aug. 26 and no further comments on the proposal have been made since. We still have time to stop the destruction, together.