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Agency commends Americana redesign

Developer of the 15.5-acre Americana project releases a preliminary list of expected tenants.

September 06, 2006|By Tania Chatila

CITY HALL — Redevelopment agency members unanimously approved design changes for the Americana at Brand development on Tuesday and commended developer Rick Caruso for keeping the momentum going on the center.

The agency OKd modifications on everything from building elevation to a proposed water feature for the $324-million, 900,000-square-foot mixed-use project expected to open in March 2008.

"It gets more exciting every time we see it…. It's like a resort," said Glendale resident George Thomas, one of several community members who spoke in favor of the project and its changes Tuesday. "I'll just have to have a second home here, a vacation home."

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Among the design changes approved, the Americana will now feature a consolidated, single-body water feature rather than previously proposed moat-like canals in portions of the project.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian questioned the necessity of a large water feature, saying that he would like to see something that could get more use, like a smaller feature that children could play in.

But the other agency members felt the current design would be ample.

Mayor Dave Weaver pointed out the popularity of similar water features at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas and at The Grove — a popular retail and entertainment center Caruso developed in Los Angeles' Fairfax District.

"I've never seen so many people stand and applaud water," Weaver said.

Design modifications also call for a two-tower condominium structure rather than a single-building façade.

"What we had proposed previously was a single-block building on Brand Boulevard that always felt a little imposing to us," said Dave Williams, senior vice president of architecture for Caruso Affiliated Holdings. "We took a whole new pass on it and came up with a two-tower scheme so you have a south tower and a north tower."

Each tower will have a separate lobby but will share underground parking, Williams said.

And the two-tower element will increase the number of corner units, a definite amenity, he added.

"We want, when this project opens up, for it to feel like it belongs here — [like] it feels comfortable," Caruso said.

Other design changes include using a more natural color palette rather than a festive one, additional two-story retail stores and the use of higher-quality materials such as stone, copper, metal and granite.

"I want to commend Caruso and his team," Manoukian said.

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