But for the past 12 months -- and maybe the last 25 years --
nothing has dominated the Glendale news like the on-again, off-again
saga of the Americana at Brand, a controversial proposed shopping
mall that has turned into a soap opera.
During the year, developer Rick Caruso withdrew his proposal, and
then reinstated it. The City Council seemed poised to reject the
project, and then approved it in a late-night meeting when Councilman
Frank Quintero split his votes, supporting all approvals that
required a unanimous vote but dissenting on all others.
The city's voters forced a referendum on three of the Americana's
approvals after Glendale Galleria owner General Growth Properties
circulated petitions, leading to a nasty campaign in which each side
spent millions of dollars.
In a September special election, voters narrowly approved the
The Americana is still not a done deal, although the City Council
in December approved demolition of most of the buildings on the
current site. One property owner is challenging the city's right to
take its land, and that case will be heard in Superior Court on
Monday. That same property owner teamed with General Growth to sue
the city, claiming the city's approvals were illegal and the
project's environmental review insufficient. That case, which could
sink the project altogether, will be heard on Jan. 12.
Through it all, the proposed shopping center, meant to be a
central meeting place for the community, has sent a splinter through
that community. For months, the News-Press' community forum pages
were filled with back-and-forth verbal wars, many of them vicious.
Supporters of the project argued that the city needs the Americana to
make Glendale a destination. Critics said the city's $77.1-million
investment is too large, and the project will create traffic. In the
Americana debate, middle ground seemed as scarce as a rumpled Rick
As 2004 slips into a memory, the nature of that memory remains to
be seen. Will the great Americana debate be little more than a rocky