The Glendale City Council on Tuesday approved a proposal to build a multiscreen theater in downtown Glendale despite complaints by a minister and his parishioners that movies could lead to moral decay.
Council members voted 4 to 1 to allow developer William Holderness to build a 1,900-seat cinema on Louise Street midway between Wilson Avenue and Broadway.
The Rev. J. Whitcomb Brougher Jr., pastor of the nearby First Baptist Church, has opposed the proposal for more than a year, complaining that cinemas show "dirty movies" and will attract an unsavory clientele to the neighborhood.
Brougher told council members Tuesday that movies he has seen on late-night television are "fraught with violence," filled with "filthy language of the street" and have "an emphasis on sex."
He suggested that the proposed cinema site be used for a library, cultural arts center or youth programs--"something that lifts the level of spirituality."
Holderness said the cinema, combined with new restaurants in the area, will help attract people to the two-block area bounded by Brand Boulevard, Louise Street, Wilson and Broadway. Stores and offices in the area are being remodeled in the city's first major renovation project. A new parking garage is being built on Maryland Avenue and a second garage is proposed for Louise Street.
Earlier Proposal Rejected
Holderness earlier had proposed building the cinema at the southwest corner of Louise and Wilson on property owned by the Baptist church but City Council members quickly dismissed the proposal after church members objected.
Last month, Holderness picked the mid-block site for the theater, which is next to the church's property. He is proposing that the entrance to the theater face a passageway to Maryland Avenue, which would lead to the new parking garage and another arcade passageway to Brand Boulevard.
Mayor Ginger Bremberg cast the only vote against the cinema. "I don't want to see a theater in that area," she said. "We haven't improved anything by moving it 50 feet."
The council action also grants Holderness authority to negotiate the relocation of the county's Department of Social Services facility at the northwest corner of Louise and Broadway. Several city officials said the county office causes overcrowded parking in the area, is not convenient to public transportation and does not fit in with the retail and business uses in the neighborhood.
Councilman Larry Zarian said the county building "is an eyesore. It doesn't belong there. It should have been gone years ago."
Holderness said he has been informally negotiating with county and state officials for two years and has proposed several other sites in Glendale for a welfare office that would be closer to a freeway and bus lines and have space for more parking.