Glendale: Judge rejects lawsuit

Glendale News Press
26 Feb 2005

Judge rejects lawsuit
Ruling clears way for project, but city officials expect General Growth to
appeal. Judge also lifts injunctions.
By Josh Kleinbaum, News-Press and Leader
Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien rejected a lawsuit filed by Glendale
Galleria owner General Growth Properties for the second time in five weeks,
making way for a controversial outdoor shopping center in downtown Glendale.
O’Brien’s final ruling rejected General Growth’s lawsuit, which challenged
city approvals for the Americana at Brand, a proposed retail and residential
complex. The decision mimics a tentative ruling O’Brien issued in January.
The judge also ordered an injunction preventing the city from demolishing
two buildings on the site to be lifted on March 10. In the next two weeks,
General Growth can ask an appellate court to extend the injunction pending a
possible appeal.
“The staff, the city and the [Redevelopment] Agency have been criticized for
not doing the right thing, not doing it properly, not with full disclosure,”
said Philip Lanzafame, interim director of development services. “What this
ruling means to me, it says that we’re validated in what we’re trying to
General Growth spokesman Arthur Sohikian did not return messages seeking
comment, but city officials expect General Growth to appeal O’Brien’s
“We’ve spent a lot of time and money defending what we did as right, and the
court agrees that it is correct,” Assistant City Atty. Gillian Van Muyden
said. “If they decide to take us to appellate court, we’ll continue to wage
our battle that what we did was legal and correct.”
Critics of the Americana said that O’Brien’s decision does not affirm that
the Americana is a good project, only that the judge does not have
jurisdiction to revert it.
“I figured that was going to happen,” said Albert Hofmann, a vocal Americana
critic. “He can’t bail out the City Council because [the council] screwed
The city is in the process of clearing the 15.5-acre project site now, and
developer Rick Caruso said he expects a groundbreaking sometime in March.
Caruso hopes the Americana will open in late 2006 or early 2007.
The Americana will include 475,000 square feet of retail space, 338
residential units, a 1.85-acre park and an 18-screen movie theater. The
city’s Redevelopment Agency approved the project’s final design Tuesday.
In the ruling, O’Brien also ordered General Growth to reimburse the city and
Caruso for court costs associated with the case, but not attorney fees. The
city spent $1.2 million defending the case, but officials expect the court
costs to cover only a small fraction of that.
“I don’t want their money,” Caruso said. “I just want them out of my life
and out of my hair, and to have them go back to their miserable little mall
and do what they do.”
* JOSH KLEINBAUM covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by
e-mail at [email protected].