CVCA is disappointed that Glendale has decided to issue a Request for Proposals for the Rockhaven property. Although all concerned express a desire to preserve the buildings dating from the 1920s and ’30s there are different opinions regarding the nature of that preservation. Adaptive reuse may preserve the exterior of structures while completely gutting the interiors. A great deal of Rockhaven’s charm is in the interiors.
The RFP calls for either a Medical/Mental Health-Related Facility or a Boutique Lifestyle Commercial Development Center. A medical facility would preclude public access to the buildings and probably most of the grounds, and a commercial center is unlikely to maintain the integrity of the building interiors and may include housing. Neither option fulfills the original intention of the city’s purchase, which was for a public park and use of the existing buildings for various community purposes. The city offered no estimate of what it would cost to rehabilitate the existing buildings for public use so apparently there has been no assessment. A per building estimate would allow for cost benefit evaluations.
The need for expansion of the Montrose Library was a big motivation when the complex was purchased by the city in 2008 and that need has been reduced by the opening of the La Crescenta Library by L.A. County. But Glendale is still short of park space. It is highly unlikely a private entity would spend the funds to rehabilitate Rockhaven without ownership of the land, and once the city gives that up, the possibility of a park is lost forever.
Another concern is the recognition of the historic status of Rockhaven. Glendale has not applied for such designation at any level – city, state or national. Historic status places some restrictions on development and it seems the city doesn’t want to discourage potential investors. There is no guarantee that Rockhaven would still be eligible if a private entity rehabilitates the facility. There may be too many changes.
Consider the Doran Gardens complex, where two historic bungalows were preserved and multifamily affordable housing built surrounding them. The intention was to get historic status for the bungalows when rehabilitated. Once the renovations were complete and the application submitted, historic status was denied due to the extent of the modifications. We fear the same could happen to Rockhaven.
Recent adaptive reuse projects like the Masonic Temple across from the Americana at Brand and the Glendale Central Air Terminal cited during the comments on the RFP issuance are examples where the building interiors have been redone to facilitate current use while preserving the exteriors. It’s much better to have the buildings preserved rather than demolished, but the public has limited access. What is different about them and the Rockhaven complex is that they are privately owned. The city owns Rockhaven and could tailor use to fit the historic interiors. Historic status might allow some exemptions to the ADA [requirements] lessening the modifications to the historic structures. I believe the city should do an assessment of what it would cost to rehabilitate each building and apply to put the complex including the grounds on the city’s Register of Historic Resources. The issuance of the RFP is premature since these have not been done.
If you agree, please contact the councilmembers and let them know. Mayor Ara Najarian – firstname.lastname@example.org, Councilmembers Paula Devine – email@example.com, Laura Friedman – firstname.lastname@example.org and Zareh Sinanyan – email@example.com. Councilmember Vartan Gharpetian was the only one to vote against issuing the RFP and you can contact him with your thanks for supporting preservation of Rockhaven honoring the original concept of a publicly accessible historic park.
On a much happier topic, local graduating seniors will be heading off to colleges and career training in a few months and you have a chance to help them. The Crescenta Valley Town Council offers scholarships and if you would like to help fund them you can send donations to the attention of Harry Leon, CVTC vice president and scholarship committee chair, Crescenta Valley Town Council, P.O. Box 8676, La Crescenta, CA 91214-0676.
The next Crescenta Valley Community Association meeting will be March 24 starting at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd. Park in the upper lot accessed from La Crescenta Avenue. The agenda will include updates on local land use issues. Our meetings are free and open to the public.