The Glendale Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday approved final design plans for a 20-story office and retail development on a key downtown block that has stood vacant for five years.
The 3-2 vote allows the Homart Development Co. of Chicago to begin construction in January on the city's largest project, to be built at Brand Boulevard and Broadway, north of the Glendale Galleria shopping mall.
Downtown merchants have long complained that the site is an eyesore and a detriment to retail sales in the area. Old-fashioned stores, including the historic Egyptian Village Cafe, were demolished years ago to make way for a previously proposed project that never materialized. Most of the block has since been surrounded by a deteriorating mauve construction wall.
The development on the west side of Brand will feature a large open plaza with a water fountain, shaded seating areas and sidewalk cafes.
The 20-story building, which will have retail stores and restaurants on the first two floors below an office tower, will be built at the southern end of the block. A temporary park will be constructed on the northern end of the block, where the developer eventually plans to build a second 22-story tower.
A multilevel parking garage with space for 1,537 cars will be built along Orange Street, with retail stores on the ground level facing the street.
Agency members Larry Zarian and Ginger Bremberg on Tuesday again voted against the project, charging that the 790,000-square-foot development is 90,000 square feet larger than the city had deemed suitable for the site and that it would worsen downtown traffic congestion.
The developer has agreed to install additional traffic lanes, update traffic signals and provide other measures to speed traffic flow on streets around the project.
The development is designed to draw shoppers from malls into the downtown retail zone, which will include a two-block shopping area on the east side of Brand called The Exchange, where 1920s-era buildings are being renovated or rebuilt.
Homart had proposed to begin construction in October. However, city officials delayed the start until after the holiday shopping season at the Glendale Galleria, where traffic is congested. The first phase of the $41-million project is to be completed within two years.