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Former New Horizons building is sold

Headquarters for group that served low-income families fetches $1.73 million.

July 22, 2011|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

CITY HALL — The defunct New Horizons Family Center has sold its former headquarters to a local businessman for $1.73 million — all of which has gone to repay government grants and back taxes.

The local nonprofit closed its doors in January in the wake of mounting financial problems after nearly two decades of providing child care to low-income families in south Glendale.

The closure came several months after founder Maria Prieto announced she would be forced to scrap longstanding plans for a new building and place the vacant property and the nonprofit's adjacent mental health facility on the market.

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Roughly $240,000 in federal funding committed to the planned expansion remains outstanding as the sale of the properties remains unresolved.

Los Angeles-based nonprofit PATH Ventures is in escrow on the properties in the 1200 block of South Maryland Avenue, with the sale contingent on city approvals and funding to build an affordable housing project for military veterans. So far, city officials have declined to commit funding to the project.

“Repayment of those New Horizons grants rests entirely in the hands of City Council,” said J.P. Perron, the real estate broker representing the New Horizons buildings.

The nonprofit had sought another social service agency to take over the main headquarters at 744 S. Glendale Ave., Perron added, but that effort was unsuccessful.

The 14,000-square-foot children’s center — which opened in 2004 and features a day-care facility, computer lab, multipurpose room for volleyball and basketball, and a playground — was nearly entirely funded through a $2.26-million state grant and $240,000 city grant.

The headquarters was placed on the market for $1.99 million and recently sold to a local businessman, whom Perron declined to identify.

“We tried to find a school to go right in there, but that didn’t work out. So now it’s literally just up to the investor, whatever is most profitable,” he said. “The sad part is the city lost the services. It was a sad day for Glendale when they [New Horizons] closed their doors.”

Prieto could not be reached for comment Friday.

Because the center had not been open for the length of time required under the terms of the grants, the majority of the sale proceeds went to a nearly $1.5-million check to the state of California and a $46,000 check to Glendale. State and city officials this week confirmed receipt of the funds.

“These are public funds, and therefore it is our duty to protect the public interest,” said Jean Lacher, a manager in the California State Parks Office of Grants and Local Services. “It is our duty to ensure that the requirements of the grant are fulfilled.”

Additional proceeds went toward paying back payroll taxes, Perron said, which previous records listed at roughly $153,000.

The center had also received several hundred thousand dollars in personal loans, mainly from Prieto’s father Jose Prieto, who has not received repayment, Perron added.

“I think that also speaks to the family’s commitment,” Perron said. “They had really stood for so much, and then at the end they were propping it up. They did everything that they could.”
 
 

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