The Glendale Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for a high-rise office and retail development on a prime downtown parcel that has stood vacant for more than three years.
Homart Development Co. of Chicago, one of the nation's largest development firms, revealed plans this week to build two office towers above shopping arcades with restaurants and an expansive central plaza on the mostly vacant block north of the Glendale Galleria.
Christopher T. Stirling, the company's western region development director, said Homart has obtained an option to purchase the site from American Trading Real Estate Co., which had planned to build twin office towers on the block bordered by Broadway, Brand Boulevard, Wilson Avenue and Orange Street.
Officials of American Trading announced last year that they were willing to sell the site after redevelopment officials repeatedly rejected architectural plans for the rectangular towers proposed, which were criticized as ugly.
The redevelopment agency for months has been studying potential uses of the blocks north of the Galleria to determine how they might best serve as a transition zone. The redevelopment zone generally is bounded by Central Avenue, Colorado Street, Maryland Avenue and Glenoaks Boulevard.
Agency members in June indicated that they would like to see a mixed development of about 600,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail space on the American Trading site. Homart is proposing a higher concentration of office space--715,000 square feet--and retail space of 75,000 square feet.
The agency voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to consider Homart's proposal, even though some members said they fear that higher-density development in the congested retail area will cause traffic jams.
Agency members Larry Zarian and Ginger Bremberg voted against Homart's plans. Zarian predicted that increased density will "impact that area to a point of no return."
However, Susan Shick, deputy redevelopment director, said the new plans for the block are "much more feasible" for the developer in terms of leasing space and gaining a financial return. Homart is proposing to develop the block without financial assistance from the city, Stirling said. Other recent projects in the redevelopment zone have required some government funds.
American Trading had proposed building identical 12-story towers. Homart's plans call for construction of an 18-story tower in the first phase of the project, coupled with a compatible 22-story tower to be built later. The second tower would be taller than any buildings in the city. An office tower in the Galleria complex is 10 stories high.
Homart officials said they are considering a pedestrian bridge to link the new development with the Galleria.