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Officials Propose Using Tax Funds to Restore House

February 14, 1991|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Glendale officials are proposing to use tax dollars to restore the historic Victorian-style Goode House, threatened with demolition for years, and to help a private developer build affordable housing for low-income seniors alongside it.

The city Housing Authority on Tuesday authorized officials to negotiate with the owner of the 103-year-old house to develop a solution to save the structure, which has steadily deteriorated, been repeatedly vandalized and is nearing collapse.

A plan proposed late last year by a developer, Joe Ayvazi of the Cedar Broadway Partnership, suggests that the city pay for a portion of an estimated $3.85-million project to restore the house and build a 40-unit senior citizen apartment complex around it.

Ayvazi said he has been unable to obtain enough funds privately to finance the costly renovation project, which was approved by the city two years ago. He had since sought to demolish the house but had learned that it would cost at least $80,000 to obtain the permits required to raze a historic structure, said Marlene Roth, a consultant to Ayvazi.

The latest proposal asks that the city allocate up to $400,000 in property tax funds set aside for low-cost housing from city revenues generated by the downtown redevelopment project. The money would be used to restore the house for use as a recreation center at the project and to reserve 10 units in the 40-unit apartment development for low-cost housing.

But officials of the housing authority said Tuesday that they are considering contributing even more--up to $720,000--to allow for all 40 apartments to be subsidized for low-income seniors. Units would then rent for about $540 a month instead of $634 per month under Ayvazi's proposal, according to a city report.

A variety of so-called "creative financing" plans also have been proposed by city officials, including options that would continue to provide income to the city after a loan is repaid.

The Housing Authority on Tuesday authorized staff officials to negotiate a potential agreement with Ayvazi. A recommendation is expected to be made within 90 days. Any agreement also would require public hearings and action by the city Historical Preservation Commission and the City Council.

The Goode House project is the first proposed in Glendale that would use local property tax revenues to finance a private residential development, said Madalyn Blake, director of community development and housing. Public funds were allocated by the housing authority last year for two other low-income senior housing projects, but those are being built by nonprofit organizations, Blake said.

Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg, who, along with the other four City Council members and two appointed citizens, sits as the Housing Authority, voiced the only opposition, saying she is opposed to the use of public money for a private development.

Besides, Bremberg said, she is weary of dealing with the Goode House, the fate of which has been bandied about for years as it has changed ownership several times. The deterioration of the house has been significant in the last year and much of the period hardware and architectural embellishment has been stolen.

"How much would it cost if we just let the house collapse and build a new community center?" Bremberg asked, who described the house as "a few window jambs and door jambs held together by termites."

The historic house is believed to be the only example of Queen Anne/Eastlake architecture remaining on its original site in Glendale. It was the residence of Edgar D. Goode, a pioneer businessman who led the city's incorporation drive in 1906.

Members of the Glendale Historical Society maintain that the house, if restored, is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It would not be eligible for the register if it were moved to a different site, such as Brand Park, which Mayor Larry Zarian has repeatedly suggested.

State law that went into effect in 1988 requires the city to set aside 20% of its portion of property taxes paid by property owners in the redevelopment area for low- and moderate-income housing. Since then, the city has budgeted about $3 million for housing out of the $4.4-million fund it has accumulated, Blake said.

The Housing Authority directed city officials more than a year ago to set up a long-term housing fund that would earn money from the dollars allocated, such as interest on loans or payments for long-term leases.

The city, for instance, last year loaned $1 million from the housing fund to Southern California Presbyterian Homes, which is building a 22-unit apartment building for low-income seniors at 549-605 E. Palmer Ave. The city owns the land on which the project is being built, and will lease it to the developer, a nonprofit corporation, for 55 years.

The agreement allows the city to earn interest on the loan and also to collect lease payments long after the loan is repaid. The earnings can then be used for other housing projects, Blake said. The financing technique is designed to wean the city from its dependence on dwindling state and federal programs for housing assistance, such as rent subsidies.

Although such creative financing options will be explored during negotiations on the proposed Goode House project, officials said an outright grant, which would not have to be repaid, also is being considered.

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