Glendale: Cable shows debate merits of Americana

Glendale News Press
April 24 2004

Cable shows debate merits of Americana

Armenian-language TV hosts said to be claiming project will drive
Armenians out of Glendale.

By Josh Kleinbaum, News-Press

GLENDALE – Viewers of local Armenian-language television programs
said that several hosts, including Vrej Agajanian of ABC TV Live,
have argued that the proposed Americana at Brand development will
drive Armenian Americans out of Glendale and will not provide jobs
for them.

Agajanian denied bringing the ethnicity issue into the Americana

“On my program, people were raising that,” Agajanian said. “On the
program, it’s a call-in show. Those were the people who were saying

Viewers said Agajanian told his audience that the project will drive
up land values in southern Glendale, raising rents and forcing
Armenian Americans to leave the city.

Agajanian said his criticism of the Americana focuses on the harm to
existing business owners.

“I’m hearing from small businesses that they’re worried,” Agajanian
said. “I’m very close to people, and they convey their message to me.
They are worried.”

The project’s proponents, including City Councilmen Rafi Manoukian
and Bob Yousefian – both of whom are Armenian American – called the
ethnicity argument nothing more than fear tactics.

“I had heard this thing,” Yousefian said. “He said, ‘If they’re going
to be charging so much rent, isn’t it going to be pushing up rents in
all of Glendale?’ No, it’s not. Just because high luxury items and
houses are selling for several million dollars, that doesn’t mean a
house built in the ’20s is going to sell for the same price.”

At a March 30 City Council meeting, developer Rick Caruso questioned
Agajanian’s objectivity, claiming that Agajanian said he could
deliver the Armenian vote if Caruso put him on his payroll.

“I told him, you have to change the project,” Agajanian said at the
time. “I’m willing to help you change the project to work. We didn’t
discuss payment or money. Now, it becomes a personal matter. I will

The council on Tuesday approved the business terms and environmental
impact report for the 15.5-acre commercial and residential campus in
downtown Glendale. It will vote Tuesday on necessary zoning changes
to allow for the residential component.

Caruso disputed the claim that the project will drive Armenian
Americans out of Glendale, saying that his project adds 338 housing
units to the city.

“The value of rental units is dependent on supply and demand,” Caruso
said. “What we’re doing, we’re adding more units to the market. If
anything, we’re creating more opportunities for people to live in
Glendale, not less.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the land values do rise, and everybody in
Glendale who owns homes, including the Armenian community, benefits
from this project? And that will happen. That doesn’t mean people are
going to be driven out of town. People are going to be wealthier.”

Agajanian’s show appears on Charter Communications Channel 26 at 10
a.m. Sundays.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS