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GLENDALE : Brand Blvd. Renewal Gets Into High Gear

October 25, 1994|STEVE RYFLE

A plan to revamp South Brand Boulevard and put Glendale's car dealerships in an "auto park" was set in motion last week--four years after city officials and car dealers first began working on the project.

Construction crews have begun installing a concrete median divider that will bisect a two-mile section of Brand Boulevard, the city's main drag, between Cerritos Avenue and Colorado Street. The divider is aimed at smoothing traffic on the heavily traveled street and making it safer for pedestrians to cross, but officials said it is only the first step toward sprucing up the street and reviving it economically.

"The car dealers are very glad to see this is finally happening. The city knows and understands the auto business is very important to Glendale, and they've been very supportive," said Jarrett Anderson, an attorney for the Glendale Motor Car Dealers Assn., which includes nine owners with 29 different auto franchises.

Anderson said the South Brand Boulevard Specific Plan, approved by the City Council in 1992 and paid for by federal grant funds, will help solve several problems long faced by the auto dealers.

He said the dealers' primary concern has been their lack of visibility, with business signs cluttering the street and overgrown trees obscuring the view of signs and showrooms. The plan includes high-profile signs that will be built along the median in both directions to direct car shoppers to the dealerships. The trees that have lined the sidewalks for 20 years will be replaced by taller pines extending past the buildings' rooftops.

Another problem has been the heavy traffic on the street. The new median will pass through several intersections at smaller side streets along the thoroughfare, preventing drivers from making left turns or crossing the boulevard.

"The median is going to be the major change you'll see on Brand," said Marlene Roth, a city planning consultant who worked with the auto dealers on the project. "The traffic has been a problem not only for the dealers, but also for the residents. Some of the neighbors had complained of trucks pulling into the middle of the street and unloading new cars from trailers."

Also included in the plan is an array of zoning changes that will allow auto dealers to develop retail, office and medical buildings on their property--a provision that could pave the way for new merchants and neighborhood commercial centers along the street, officials said. Eventually, overhead electrical cables are to be removed and reinstalled underground.

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