Business improvement district gains steam

Galleria owners are now saying they support the creation of a district downtown.

May 18, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk,

A private effort to bolster business on Brand Boulevard has slowed, even as city leaders worry that budget cuts might limit city maintenance in the core business district.

The owner of the Glendale Galleria — an important player in any future business improvement district downtown — has sent mixed signals. Last month, General Growth Properties representatives said they would not participate in creating the district, but recently their tone has changed to full-fledged support.

The Chicago-based company owns nearly one-fifth of the proposed district — which stretches from the Americana at Brand to the Ventura (134) Freeway — and its support is considered vital.


General Growth spokesman David Keating said the company just wants more information on the plan.

“We support the business improvement district 100%,” he said.

But last month, the company told members of the district steering committee that it would not participate in the vote to form the district, in which 168 property owners in the area bounded roughly by the 134 Freeway, Orange Street, Colorado Street and Maryland Avenue would raise about $1 million per year for enhanced security, maintenance and promotion of the Brand Boulevard corridor.

And at a City Council budget meeting, City Manager Jim Starbird said the company had “flopped in their position on the BID.”

The creation of the district is backed by the Americana at Brand and merchants including Porto’s Bakery who see it as a way to revitalize Brand Boulevard and attract more shoppers.

Public Works Director Steve Zurn told the City Council last week that sidewalk cleaning along Brand might be reduced or eliminated as the city tries to bridge an $18-million budget deficit.

“In the overall scope of things, when we are talking about repairing streets and paving streets and fixing sidewalks, this is not an essential program,” Zurn said.

Helen McDonagh, owner of the Glendale Massage Envy franchise and president of the Downtown Glendale Merchants Assn., said that with government cuts looming, private enterprise must pay to help itself.

“Jerry Brown can’t take this away from us,” McDonagh said.

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