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Glendale City Council gives green light to Arts Colony

Project design, worth $29.9M, was approved by a 3-2 vote.

February 18, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • The $29.9 million Glendale Arts Colony planned for 121 North Kenwood Street is a 70-unit affordable housing project that will give preference to households in the creative workforce. (Courtesy of the City of Glendale)
The $29.9 million Glendale Arts Colony planned for 121…

Dozens of seniors filled City Council chambers Tuesday to oppose a $29.9-million affordable housing project for creative industry workers planned for downtown Glendale, but the showing wasn’t enough to prevent approval of the final design and a city housing loan for the so-called “Glendale Arts Colony.”

The project design was approved by a 3-2 vote from the City Council, while a roughly $6-million city housing loan got the green light on a 4-3 vote by the Housing Authority, which consists of the five-member council and two additional appointed members.

The project at 140 N. Louise St. is a joint venture between the city, the YMCA — which owns the property — and a private developer. While it’s been reviewed by the council several times before, the final vote faced the most opposition to date.

YMCA officials had originally wanted to build senior housing on the property, however, their counterparts at the city reoriented the 70-unit project toward artist housing. Glendale officials aim to reinvigorate the downtown and Arts & Entertainment area, and want to see residents who would support nightlife activity.

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In addition, there’s sufficient senior housing in the area — about 400 units within two blocks of the YMCA — officials have said.

Councilmen Zareh Sinanyan and Ara Najarian led the opposition to the project because they didn’t want to limit the housing to artists or people in the creative workforce because the need for senior affordable housing in Glendale is so great and the possibility of the city building more affordable developments in the future is so slim.

“It is going to be a cold day when I open this project up to an unemployed actor in Santa Monica,” said Najarian, adding that he believed seniors and people with disabilities within the Glendale community will be frozen out because “they’re not creating films, videos or architecture and I have a problem with that.”

City officials said, however, that seniors and people with disabilities would not be blocked outright from the project. Other council members added that the council as a group has created preferences for affordable housing developments in the past. On Wednesday, the city is set to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for Veterans Village, a 44-unit affordable housing project that will give preference to veterans.

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