Glendale: Town Center site in limbo

Glendale News Press
April 5 2004

Town Center site in limbo
Tenants are left to wonder about their futures after another project
is pulled.

DOWNTOWN GLENDALE — For merchants in the 15.5-acre Town Center
project site, another developer losing interest in building a new
retail development is business as usual.

“It’s been an ongoing situation for 20 years,” said Robert Kann, vice
president of Scotty’s & Sons, a hardware store in the area for more
than 40 years. “It seems like every five to seven years, you get all
sorts of people out here with a roll of tape, with official-looking
vests, but then nothing happens.”

Developer Rick Caruso pulled out of the project at Tuesday’s City
Council meeting, citing his frustration with what he called a
procedural issue. Three City Council members would not go along with
an amendment to the city charter that would have allowed a change in
zoning requirements to permit Caruso to build.

Nothing will continue to happen, at least until the Redevelopment
Agency gives some direction on what to do next with the languishing
and blighted property, which, if approved, would have been filled
within two years with a Crate & Barrel, Cheesecake Factory, a
multiplex theater and a host of other upscale tenants.

But as a city relocation plan has come to a halt, everyone from
property owners to tenants are in limbo. The city had been buying
land in the area — $34 million so far — and moving tenants to other
parts of the city.

“I’m concerned now that if they don’t do anything with the property,
what kind of tenant is going to come in and rent?” asked property
owner Ken Kevorkian, who owns property on the site on Orange and
Harvard streets. “There isn’t any foot traffic in the area now. The
whole property has been under an umbrella of possible condemnation,
and I can’t get a good tenant in there. Subsequently, my rent is half
of what it is in other places. If they are not going to develop, it’s
like a blight on the area.”

Complicating matters is that some of the remaining tenants cannot be
relocated until a property on the project site is purchased by the
city for demolition. And property owners are holding out for the best
deal they can from the city, particularly after the city paid $5
million for the Armenian Society of Los Angeles building at 221 S.
Brand Blvd. and relocation to its new site at 117 S. Louise St.

Kevorkian said the city offered him $1 million, but he did not take
the deal.

“When they offered me $1 million, comparatively speaking, that was
nothing,” he said.

Some are happy right where they are.

“We’re making a bit of money here, why get another location?” said
Roger Licup, a manager at Big 5 Sporting Goods. “Market-wise, we’re
doing OK down here. You are not going to get the good value somewhere
else. People know we are here.”