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Developer Drops Plan to Restore Historic House

September 14, 1989|SANTIAGO O'DONNELL | Times Staff Writer

After 2 1/2 years of struggling with preservationists and city regulations, developer Joe Ayvazi has given up on his plans to restore the 102-year-old Victorian mansion known as the Goode House and develop the property surrounding it.

Ayvazi has notified Glendale officials that he will sell the deteriorating landmark to the city if it is interested in taking over the project. Ayvazi had won approval for a plan to restore the house and build a low-income housing project on adjoining property.

"Based on the wishes of the investors, it is necessary for me to place the property on sale," Ayvazi wrote in a letter to City Manager David Ramsay earlier this month. "Before doing so, I felt it would be appropriate to offer the property to the city."

The asking price for the mansion and three adjacent properties is $1.3 million. Ayvazi said that price would cover his purchase price of $715,000, plus expenses and lost profits.

The city has not responded to the offer, but two City Council members reacted angrily to the letter. One criticized Ayvazi for going back on his promise to preserve the Goode House and another blamed preservationists for fighting him to a standstill.

Councilman Carl Raggio criticized Ayvazi for abandoning the project. "My feeling is that he made a commitment to fix the Goode House and provide senior housing, and he should see it through," he said. "After two years, it's kind of late in the game to give up."

But Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg blamed opponents of Ayvazi's project. "They got their way, didn't they?" she said. "Their attack was successful in stalling the project until it fell apart."

The two-story house at 119 N. Cedar St. is one of the city's two remaining examples of Queen Anne/Eastlake architecture, and the only one still on its original site. It was once the home of Edgar D. Goode, considered one of Glendale's founding fathers because he spearheaded the petition drive that led to the city's incorporation in 1906.

For the last three years, city officials have sought a way to preserve the structure, which is vacant, run-down and has been threatened with demolition.

Ayvazi, who ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in April, announced plans in September, 1987, to rehabilitate the Goode House and to build a U-shaped, two-story office building around it. Since then, the Glendale Historical Society, claiming that the proposed development would compromise the Goode House's historical and architectural value, has doggedly opposed the plan.

The office building project was grounded when the city ruled that Ayvazi had to prepare an environmental impact report that had been demanded by the Historical Society.

Changes Plans

To avoid conducting the costly, time-consuming study, Ayvazi reached an agreement with the city to replace the office building plan with a 40-unit low-income housing project for the elderly.

But, once again, preservationists complained that the proposed housing project would overwhelm the house.

The Historical Society filed four appeals that were heard by the City Council and the Board of Zoning Adjustments. After making several design changes to accommodate the opponents' objections, Ayvazi won final approval from the city last June. His opponents threatened to file suit in court to block the development.

Even though the Historical Society says Ayvazi's plan would damage the house, no other plan for rescuing it has been proposed. Ayvazi has filed for a permit to demolish the house. A new buyer would not be bound by Ayvazi's promise to restore the house.

Led Opposition

Historical Society President David L. Smith, who led the opposition to the developer's plans, said he was saddened that the project fell through.

"It's not good news because even though we didn't like Ayvazi's project" it would have saved the house from demolition, Smith said. "This once again throws the future of the house into question."

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