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Alex Theatre to get the bucks

City will roll dice in hope that state will reimburse it for theater improvements.

April 11, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Pedestrians walk past the Alex Theatre on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)
Pedestrians walk past the Alex Theatre on Tuesday, July… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

Glendale plans to spend $750,000 of its own money to cover a budget shortfall for a $4.4 million plan to expand the Alex Theatre, even as the future of the historic venue remains uncertain.

The theater, which has long been dependent on Glendale's Redevelopment Agency, has faced several obstacles since state officials terminated the property tax program aimed at developing blighted areas last year to fill a multi-billion-dollar budget gap.

Not only has it put the venue at risk of being sold, but now the cumbersome process of unraveling local redevelopment agencies across the state has added a wrinkle to an expansion project years in the making, prompting Glendale to put up some of its own funds to get construction going.

To move forward with redevelopment projects planned before Sacramento lawmakers killed redevelopment, such as the theater expansion, Glendale needs the green light — and greenbacks — from the California Department of Finance.

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But the process for requesting money is out of whack with the theater's tight construction schedule.

About six months before Glendale officials want to spend money on former redevelopment projects, they must give an estimate to state finance officials. When Glendale's redevelopment team submitted an estimate for the Alex Theatre project months ago, a full cost analysis wasn't complete, hence the gap.

Last week, the coalition of city, Los Angeles County and Glendale Unified officials that reviews redevelopment decisions before they are sent to Sacramento — known as the Oversight Board — approved of the $750,000 loan to close the gap.

The hope is that the state will reimburse the city for the loan later on.

Philip Lanzafame, Glendale's officer for economic development and asset management, said he's reached out to state officials and lawmakers to back the loan, but can't say for certain that the money will be returned.

"We've got everybody saying yes, but this is something that's a discretionary approval every six months," he said.

Despite the risk, Carl Raggio, a former City Council member and chairman of the Oversight Board, supported the loan because "the end result is an improvement to the community."

"I think this is a good thing," he said.

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