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Downtown boutique hotel project stalls again at City Council meeting

Downtown boutique hotel project stalls again at City Council meeting
The proposed boutique hotel on 241 North Maryland Ave., known as Hotel Indigo, stalled at city council after an impasse Tuesday. Developers are looking to replace a city owned parking lot with a six-story, 140-room hotel. (Courtesy of the city of Glendale)

Although initially sent back for further review in December, a six-story hotel project planned on North Maryland Avenue has again stalled in City Council chambers after an impasse over a number of requested concessions by the developers.

If approved, Hotel Indigo — proposed to be located at the southwest corner of California and North Maryland avenues — would bring another multistory hotel to downtown Glendale, this time demolishing a 25,335-square-foot, city-owned surface parking lot with 66 spaces to make room for a 140-room boutique hotel with a two-level underground garage.

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R3 Real Estate Developers sought an allowance for its design to exceed the maximum allowed floor-area-ratio, or FAR, of 3.0 as granted for hotel projects in the downtown area.

It instead sought a variance for a 3.26 FAR, which is due in part to the relocation of a nearby alley that would be deeded back to the city.

If the project included the alley in its FAR calculation, the developer argued, the FAR would be below the maximum allowance.

While Councilwoman Paula Devine rejected the standards variance based on an adherence to city code, the developer's request for a parking exception was what ultimately split the four voting council members. Councilman Vartan Gharpetian was not at the meeting.

The current design is 58 parking spaces short of what is required by the city code, which mandates hotels provide one parking space per guest room. The 66 city-owned parking spaces would be replaced by the developer.

The applicant argued that based on a parking generation study by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, that hotels can have adequate parking at a 0.8 to 0.7 ratio.

Based on that ratio, the Hotel Indigo project should only be required to make up for an additional 30 parking spaces.

The applicant agreed with council's suggestion to enter into an agreement with a nearby off-site parking garage for 30 spaces that would be handled by the hotel's valet service.

Still, a number of concerns were raised by members of the hotel workers union Unite Here Local 11 during the public-comment portion of the meeting, who said that the "valuable" public land should be used for the benefit of the community, such as providing affordable housing and open park spaces, as well as good jobs and benefits for Glendale's workers.

While deliberating the requested variances, council members agreed that conditions of approval would be the 30 off-site parking spaces, a guarantee that at least 15% of hotel hires be local and provide a wage commensurate with hotel workers to be determined by a survey of comparable services at the time the hotel is completed.

However, Mayor Zareh Sinanyan adjourned the meeting after there was some confusion over a suggestion by Councilman Vrej Agajanian that the applicant consider making a $250,000 contribution for affordable housing — inspired by the same move made by the developer of a similar hotel project on North Louise Street last year.

Another review of the Hotel Indigo project is tentatively scheduled for the April 17 City Council meeting.

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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