It was no small feat, even before construction crews broke ground. Community activists campaigned heavily against the city’s land gift, worth $77 million, to get the project rolling.
General Growth Properties, owner of the Glendale Galleria, financed a petition that forced three voter referendums in 2004 that were required to get the Americana off the ground. All three of them won by a less than 2% margin.
Despite the win, legal issues continued. Caruso Affiliated sued the Glendale Galleria for allegedly trying to block potential tenants from moving into the Americana, and the owner of the adjacent Golden Key Hotel Glendale has claimed financial hardships resulting from the 17-month build.
A construction worker was also killed in the early stages of the project when he was accidentally run over by a front-end loader. State officials later cited the on-site subcontractor for failing to provide adequate safety measures.
But in the eight months since the Americana opened, opposition has subsided in the wake of preliminary financial reports indicating sales and property tax increments from the mixed-use center were padding the impact of a worsening economic recession to city revenues.
Even some of the biggest opponents of the project have publicly said they now support the 15.5-acre higher-end shopping complex.
That support waned briefly in November when Caruso Affiliated carried on with a grand fireworks display for a Christmas tree lighting ceremony that drew tens of thousands of spectators.
The fireworks show came as thousands of Southland residents were fleeing out-of-control fires, which had burned hundreds of homes and darkened the skies with smoke.
Several City Council members publicly rebuked the show, which sparked another back-and-forth between Americana supporters and longtime opponents.
Council clamps down on public smoking