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Housing for artists comes one step closer

Glendale Arts Colony would offer 70 units for low-income people.

October 16, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Glendale Art Colony is a proposed 70-unit, five-story affordable housing development set to cover a one-acre site on Kenwood Street between Wilson and Broadway avenues.
Glendale Art Colony is a proposed 70-unit, five-story… (Courtesy of the…)

An affordable housing complex for artists took a key step forward Tuesday as city leaders approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with the project's developer, but City Council members called for some tweaks to the so-called Glendale Arts Colony as it moves through the development process.

The $31.3 million project, which plans to incorporate 70 units and community space for art display and creation, is proposed for a 1-acre site adjacent to and owned by the Glendale YMCA at 140 N. Louise St.

It would replace two apartment complexes — one with 22 units and the other with four — and it would face Kenwood Street between Wilson Avenue and Broadway.

“You've heard of starving artists … this fits for them going in here,” said Mayor Dave Weaver, as the City Council, acting in its dual role as the Housing Authority, unanimously voted for the project to move forward. Plus, he added, “the city gets an innovative try at something new.”

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The five-story development would be a joint venture between the nonprofit Meta Housing Corp. in Los Angeles and the city's Housing Authority.

YMCA officials had wanted to build an affordable housing complex for seniors on the site, but council members nixed that proposal in February because there is sufficient senior housing in the area — about 400 units within two blocks of the YMCA — and they wanted residents who wouldn't be opposed to late-night activity in the neighborhood, known as the Arts & Entertainment District.

Although most members of the City Council and Housing Authority liked the proposed design and concept, some were concerned about how potential residents would be chosen and the mix of unit types.

Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said he didn't want to block individuals in Glendale who have been on the hunt for affordable housing from the project because they don't meet a narrow definition of artist.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman agreed that the types of artists targeted to live at the complex should be broad. She envisioned makeup artists and set designers in the entertainment industry having the same eligibility as fine artists.

“I really love the idea of workforce housing for the creative community,” Friedman said.

Councilman Frank Quintero disliked that 31% of the units would have three bedrooms, describing the neighborhood as a bad fit for families because of its lack of open space and overburdened schools.

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