Council Contemplates Height of Proposed Residential Project


“I can’t wrap my head around 35 stories. That would dwarf our tallest buildings; at 22 stories, this would be 50% taller,” said Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, sharing his concerns about the proposed 348-unit, 350- foot, primarily residential project proposed for Brand Boulevard and Maryland Street that would straddle the 134 Freeway. It was the third development project reviewed by the Glendale City Council at two meetings on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, it is permitted under our DSP (Downtown Specific Plan) guidelines. At this point, I’m kicking myself. I don’t know how we got in this situation. I don’t think we ever envisioned a building this height – we were focused on open space and articulation. Something that tall just slipped by,” he said, adding, “I want to say no to this building.”

Najarian then voted to approve the next steps in the review process.

Stage 1 was approved with a 3-2 vote of the council at its 3 p.m. meeting. Councilmembers Paula Devine and Vartan Gharpetian voted no.

Councilmember Frank Quintero explained his support.

“This will be a tall building among other tall buildings,” he said. “This DSP – I wasn’t around for it – allows for tall buildings downtown. You’re raising all sorts of concerns now, but then why did the DSP pass? If you don’t want housing in the downtown, why don’t you downzone the entire downtown? I thought we wanted to concentrate new housing downtown where there’s greater access to public transportation, with more coming. This is a project that conforms to the DSP and I support it.”

Councilmember Gharpetian argued parking in detail with the developer, insisting that the eight or nine levels of proposed parking be built subterranean rather than above ground. After securing general agreement to this approach, Gharpetian voted against preliminary conceptual approval for the development.

As described, the existing Chase Bank building on the northwest corner of Brand and Maryland would be preserved and maintained as an historic resource as part of the overall multi-family complex to be built on the nine-parcel, 1.48-acre (64,600 square foot) site.

Eighteen units, or 5% of the units, would be dedicated to very low-income households and the owners committed to complying with the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, allocating $15 million toward affordable housing.

The building could be as tall as 380 feet and could take advantage of added density bonuses to build additional units. As currently proposed, the 350-foot building would be tiered, with terraces and open space throughout, and would include 621 parking spaces (26 more than are required by current regulations), a fountain flowing out onto Maryland Avenue, limited fencing, trees around the sides, 3,000 square feet of photovoltaic cells to generate energy, and a dog run. Consistent with the DSP, 40% of the units would be 2- or 3-bedroom, set back at least 20 feet, with 9,801 square feet of publicly accessible open space, or 15% (12% is required).

Local developer Rodney Kahn explained the owners’ plans and aspirations.

“Ralph and Larry Cimmarusti – the Cimmarusti brothers – have owned the property for 25 years and they’re looking to build this for their children and their grandchildren,” he said. “No variances are needed. This will actually improve traffic at one of the city’s busiest intersections.”

Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council president Grant Michaels expressed the organization’s concerns about their inability to comment substantively given the lack of detail in the outline presented, noting parking as a potential issue.

“What attracts me,” Quintero noted, “is this could key more affordable housing. I’d prefer them to use the $15 million and find a location or two and build affordable housing.”

In other action, the council approved a new mural for a new Nike store opening soon in the Americana.

“It meets the city’s mural standards. It has no advertising and no numbers on it,” city staff recommended the okay. According to a representative from Nike, the mural highlights body and cultural diversity, showing athletes in motion, and is designed by a local (Pasadena) artist.

The council gave both preliminary and more substantive approval to a new medical and general office building at 517 E. Broadway, at the corner of Isabel, in the civic center area. Currently, the site houses the medical offices of Dr. Noobar Janoian and All for Health, Health for All. The new Janoian Medical Building as proposed is a five-story commercial building, approximately 70 feet tall, with 7,698 square feet of leasable medical office space, 21,250 square feet of general office space, and 3,552 square feet of ground-level retail.

The council approved the general parameters of the project while asking the developer to work with the police department (next to the location) on wall height and security measures for a “more modest” redesign of an eight-by-40-foot creative sign, and for the building to meet the highest environmental standards.

At its evening meeting, the council voted to purchase five new Beeline buses, costing up to $3.7 million, and instructed staff to draft legislation to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products through an amendment to the Glendale Municipal Code.