By Jason KUROSU
A well-dressed crowd gathered in front of the Alex Theatre on Thursday morning, not passing the time during the intermission of a symphony or play, but rather celebrating the establishment of the Downtown Glendale Community Benefit District. Business owners in the area hope that by collectively contributing towards improvements within the district (which extends from Colorado Boulevard to the Ventura (134) Freeway) that consumers will flock to downtown Glendale and as a result, business in the area will flourish.
Members of the nonprofit organization, the Downtown Glendale Association (formerly the Downtown Glendale Merchants’ Association), helped launch the Community Benefit District and were present at Thursday morning’s ribbon-cutting.
DGA President Rick Lemmo led the proceedings.
“Welcome to our reboot, the next level of what is going to happen in Downtown Glendale,” said Lemmo, a greeting met with spirited applause.
The project involves the beautification of the downtown area in various ways, designed to attract business. Most directly, cleanliness ambassadors can now be seen about Glendale, keeping the area pristine and aiding anyone looking for directions or businesses within the district. The ambassadors can be identified by their blue and khaki uniforms.
Speaking of the ambassadors, who have been patrolling Glendale for about a month, Lemmo said, “They are wonderful people who welcome people to Glendale better than I know I ever could. These guys do it with heart and soul and excitement.”
Lemmo also told the audience that if they knew any great businesses on Brand Boulevard, “Tell them to please stay open after eight o’ clock,” as part of the city’s efforts to attract more business.
Glendale City Councilmember Laura Friedman spoke next.
“I think that the Renaissance that we’re having in our downtown is one of the most exciting developments in Glendale,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what it looks like in a year, five years, 10 years, because it’s just going to keep getting better and better.”
Friedman previously spoke at the Sparr Heights Community Center in December about Glendale’s plans to attract more business to the downtown area, an economic development that she hoped would “increase sales tax revenue and decrease office vacancies.”
Lemmo also said that a chance for property owners to have a more direct, positive impact upon Glendale’s business community was part of the transition from the merchant’s association to the Downtown Glendale Association.
However, Lemmo added, “I don’t really look at it as a change from one association to another. We all assess ourselves for everything from sidewalk improvements to marketing. All the property owners deal with whatever is needed and people in the area are marshaling their own resources to make the city better.”
Members of the Downtown Glendale Association, city council, chamber of commerce, and the new ambassadors stood before the audience for the ribbon cutting, with Lemmo given the honor of wielding the scissors and cutting the ribbon.