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Two large development projects move forward in Glendale

September 21, 2012|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com
(TCA ARCHITECTS )

The City Council this week approved plans for two large projects, including one that will fill a lot in the heart of Glendale that has sat vacant for more than two decades. But it was the other project in the southern part of the city that proved to be more contentious.

That project, which was approved with a 3-2 vote, will be built on a 2.18-acre triangular site that borders three major streets — Los Feliz Road, Central Avenue and San Fernando Road.

In its most recent proposal, Houston-based developer Camden USA Inc. added 58 apartments and an extra floor to the structure, bringing the total number of apartments to 287.

The project was originally approved in October 2011 with five stories and 229 units, 11 of which would have been low-income units.

By increasing the number of low-income units to 22, state law allows Camden to increase the total number of units and add another story to the building.

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Councilmen Ara Najarian and Rafi Manoukian voted against that plan on Tuesday.

“I think you should build what you initially applied for,” Manoukian said.

Najarian was more harsh, saying the fact that Camden wants to build more units because construction costs are coming in higher than anticipated is “just out and out wrong.”

He said Camden is simply taking a “second bite” at the state law to boost lower-than-expected profits.

“I don’t think this is a precedent we should set,” he said. “I think this is totally inappropriate to be entertaining this at this time.”

However, Councilwoman Laura Friedman pointed out that state law allows a developer to add more units if it also builds more low-income units.

“If you don’t like the density bonus law, if you don’t like SB 1818, go to the Senate and you deal with them,” she said. “You don’t take it out on the developers who are taking advantage of it.”

The 37,000 square feet of ground-level retail/office space in the originally approved plans remained the same.

The project will have 402 parking spaces dedicated for residential use and 148 parking stalls for commercial.

Meanwhile, the project in the middle of downtown, which passed by a 4-1 vote, will be on southwest corner of Brand Boulevard and Wilson Avenue next to the City Centre, a prime location that has been void of development for more than 20 years.

Washington-based Holland Partner Group plans to start work in November on the six-story building that will be distinctly divided architecturally into three sections. It will be composed of 9,800 square feet of commercial space that will include a high-end restaurant on the ground floor, 235 apartments in the middle, and penthouses on top.

Councilman Dave Weaver said he could not support the project because he feels there should be a high-rise “first-class” hotel on the 60,000-square-foot site, which is what council members wanted there when they drafted the Downtown Specific Plan.

He added, however, that he did like the plans for the retail/residential project.

The building is designed in an “S” shape, with courtyards on the roof and a pocket park on the corner of Wilson and Orange Avenue.

It will have 361 parking spaces, most of them on two subterranean levels.

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Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam

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