Residential high-rise in downtown Glendale clears initial design stage

An early-design-stage rendering of a 35-story, 348-unit residential high-rise planned for 610 N. Brand Blvd. in downtown Glendale. Last week, Glendale City Council members voted 3-2 to advance the project to its second design stage.
(Courtesy of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects )

“A 350-foot tall, 348-unit residential high-rise proposed for downtown Glendale has passed its first design hurdle.

As currently conceived, the 35-story multifamily property planned for 610 N. Brand Blvd. — tentatively called Lucia Park — would be the tallest building in the city.

The height “touched a nerve” with several City Council members, as Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian put it during a special afternoon council meeting Jan. 21. The vote was split 3-2 in favor of approving the project’s conceptual design.

Council members Vartan Gharpetian and Paula Devine voted against approving the project, citing concerns ranging from the level of density to potential traffic impacts to aesthetic qualms.

“I think we’re trying to squeeze too much on a smaller lot,” Gharpetian said.

As proposed, the 64,000-square-foot project site would include the high-rise, three levels of subterranean parking and nine above-grade levels of parking. A potentially historic six-story commercial Chase Bank building, which previously housed Home Savings & Loan, will be maintained on the site.

There was discussion about extending the subterranean parking one more level, which would pull the above-ground parking down and potentially allow for a reduction in the height of the residential building, according to Rodney Kahn, a development consultant working with Glendale-born developers Ralph and Larry Cimmarusti.

It was a change Councilman Vreg Agajanian said he would like to see studied.

The proposed project conforms to the city’s downtown building guidelines, know as the Downtown Specific Plan, passed just this past spring, Councilman Frank Quintero said. Quintero was not serving on the council when the guidelines were adopted.

As envisioned, the project would include 621 parking spaces and 9,800 square feet of publicly accessible open space — both more than required by the city’s downtown guidelines.

It will also offer 18 units for very-low-income tenants, or 5% of the total unit mix.

The developers will need to offer an additional 10% of the property’s total units off-site or pay about $15 million in what’s called in-lieu fees, according to city officials.

Quintero said the affordable housing component was what made the project attractive to him, adding that he hoped the developer would build the additional housing instead of paying the fees.

“If you don’t want housing in downtown, why don’t you downzone the entire downtown?” said Quintero, referring to concerns among council members about the project. Glendale council members had previously aimed to concentrate housing in the city’s downtown and reduce density in other parts of the city, Quintero said.

According to Najarian, the height allowance — of up to 380 feet under the downtown guidelines if certain criteria are met — was an oversight by the council.

“We were focused on open space and articulation, but something that tall is just something that slipped by,” said Najarian, who voted to advance the project to the second stage.

As proposed, the residential property will include 209 one-bedroom units, 234 two-bedroom units and 43 three bedroom-units.

There is no timeline for the project to return to the council, according to Glendale city spokeswoman Eliza Papazian.”

Article courtesy of  Lila Seidman at Glendale News-Press. January 28, 2020

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