For the first time since downtown redevelopment began 18 years ago, Glendale officials may permit individual property owners to work together on a revitalization project.
The Glendale Redevelopment Agency is proposing that a two-block area immediately east of the Glendale Galleria shopping mall be spruced up with extensive renovation of old buildings and construction of new buildings and parking garages as part of an "old town" shopping district.
But unlike other redevelopment projects, in which one developer was made responsible for a whole block, the latest proposal could allow individual owners to renovate or replace their buildings.
The proposal involves land bounded by Brand Boulevard on the west, Louise Street on the east, Broadway on the north and Harvard Street on the south. Much of the area is used for paved parking lots or contains buildings that are badly deteriorated, vacant and beyond repair.
Previously, individual owners along Brand generally had only small lots and did not have the economic resources or interest to take on a block-long project. Today, property owners have larger parcels and are willing to participate in redevelopment, said Jeanne Armstrong, redevelopment director.
"We are finding now that there is a lot of property-owner interest in that area," Armstrong said. "We think it is a good idea to give the owners a chance to redevelop their own property."
Owners in the two-block area fought vehemently seven years ago for the right to renovate and rebuild their property but were rebuffed by a majority of the City Council, which acts as the redevelopment agency, because the city had more grandiose plans in mind.
The council voted in 1983 to turn the entire site over to a Sherman Oaks developer who proposed building a project called the Colonnades. That plan was to be a mixed-use development of high-rise offices, retail stores, restaurants and theaters combined with more than 200 residential condominium units.
The plan fell through in 1984 because the developer decided he wanted to build apartments and a residential hotel instead of condominiums--a plan the city did not like--and because he failed to meet financial commitments.
The city dropped further discussion of the two-block area until last March, when a study session was called. More than 50 property owners, developers and others crammed into a city hall conference room to express interest in participating.
The unexpected turnout prompted city officials to call a second study session--held last month at the spacious city library auditorium--to outline their proposal and listen to public comment.
The agency late next month will be asked to adopt a development design for the project and authorize a traffic study. Owners, meantime, are being polled by the city to determine which of them may wish to participate and which plan to sell their property.
If individual property owners decide they want to tackle the project, they will have to work in unison, officials, consultants and owners agreed during the June study session.
"If it is just a bunch of property owners doing their own thing, it's not going to happen," said Mark Blatchley, owner of a building at 102 E. Broadway, who warned that the result could be "a jumbled mess."
"The ability of all property owners to get together and coordinate this is extremely important," Mayor Larry Zarian said.
The project proposed by the city would expand the Exchange--a two-block renovation project under way just to the north--with the idea of forming an "old town" shopping district. It would be at the southern end of the downtown redevelopment zone, just north of Colorado Street.
The proposal calls for expanding the Exchange by extending the landscaping and brick-paving scheme along Maryland Avenue south from Broadway to Harvard.
Officials are proposing to install a pedestrian walkway and a plaza in the mid-block area south of Broadway, similar to the construction and renovation under way north of Broadway. New multilevel parking facilities also would be built.