By Ted AYALA
The developer of the proposed Tropico Apartments had blunt words for the effect of a 25% reduction in density, demanded by the Glendale City Council last month, would have on the project.
“It is economically unfeasible,” said Michael Genthe, managing director of Mill Creek Residential Trust of Dallas, Texas. “The property will remain a blighted parking lot.”
Located on 435 W. Los Feliz Road, the 2.1-acre property, whose name harkens back to the name of a community located on the site early in the last century, sits adjacent to the border with Los Angeles. Previous plans to develop the property emerged beginning in 2005, but remained stillborn. Mill Creek is the latest developer to pursue the Tropico Apartments project.
The project would consist of a five-story housing complex Problems have arisen in the latest incarnation of the project over parking space. City zoning for that area requires Mill Creek to make available 508 parking spaces. The developer has only been able to provide 367 spaces. City council would need to provide an exemption for the parking space threshold –which it declined to do in a meeting in March.
Instead, the council voted 3 – 2 to demand that Mill Creek reduce the density of its housing project.
Rodney Khan, representative for the developer and a Glendale resident, echoed Genthe’s remarks, predicting a dire future for the property if a solution isn’t found soon.
“This site is one of the main entrances into our city and it is the definition of blight,” he said. “It is used to store trash containers, debris. Welcome to the City of Glendale. This is how visitors see our city as they enter and exit it.”
Among the benefits of developing the location, he added, would be the beautification of the surrounding neighborhood, as well as making it safer for residents and businesses.
He also dismissed concerns over traffic, saying that the current version of the Tropico Apartments “generates the least amount of traffic” compared to previously approved versions of the project.
Khan stressed that Mill Creek has been forthcoming with the city respecting its demands, but said that the developer “has nothing more it can give.”
“You have gotten the absolute best project the city will ever see on this site,” he said. “There is a window of opportunity open on this project and we can’t afford to miss it.”
Coming under the withering criticism of Councilmember Ara Najarian was not only the developer but city staff. Najarian accused city staff of pushing the matter while Councilmember Laura Friedman was absent in observance of Passover. He also accused City Manager Scott Ochoa of acting “beyond” the parameters of his duties.
In a video he played during the special meeting of the council, Najarian demonstrated that former mayor Dave Weaver told him to “shut up” about his criticisms over the project, adding that the then-mayor was “falling over himself” in support for Tropico.
“It is absolutely improper to put this on the agenda after [Councilmember] Friedman placed a notice well in advance that she would not be here today,” he said. “Another motion on this subject should not be brought before this council. I urge you to reject this as an action item and take it only as an informational item.”
Mayor Zareh Sinanyan agreed to withhold a vote on the matter until April 22.