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Fire-damaged building in downtown Glendale demolished

A downtown Glendale building damaged in a fire in May 2013 was recently demolished, prompting the owners of the restaurant and retail stores that once called the two-story site their home to make differing choices about their businesses’ future.

Joseph Toorian, who owned a specialty gift store on the ground floor of the building at 233 N. Brand Blvd. for 15 years with his wife, took nearly seven months after the May fire to reopen their store, Regali Preciozo, in another location.

“It was an uphill, painful struggle,” Toorian said, adding that the longer the couple waited to start again, the more likely they would lose clients and exclusive gift suppliers being courted by competitors.

The shop’s new home at 1026 E. Colorado Blvd. doesn’t have the same foot traffic from the FedEx store or Porto’s Bakery & Cafe on Brand Boulevard as the other site, but the new store has become a destination shop for loyal customers, Toorian said.

The edifice’s owner, who could not be reached for comment, told Toorian and other former tenants that he would like to rebuild.

Toorian plans to keep his new location and possibly open a second store in the new development if that’s an option when construction is complete.

Tim Foy, assistant director of planning, said the building owner has yet to apply for development permits, but received a permit to demolish the structure in late April.

The fire on May 27, 2013, ripped through the structure around midnight. The cause of the fire is undetermined, said Battalion Chief Vince Rifino.

While Regali Preciozo has moved on, the owners of a restaurant that was only in the building for 10 months before the fire struck are waiting until the new development is complete before they restart their business.

Chris Skaf, who owned the downtown Glendale location of Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine with his brother, Daniel, said the duo felt it was best to wait for a new building to be constructed on the same site instead of finding another location because of the slew of new apartments being built in downtown.

Hundreds of new units are under construction in multiple buildings just around the corner from the property site, between Brand Boulevard and Central Avenue along West Wilson Avenue. More than 3,800 units across nearly two dozen projects south of the Ventura (134) Freeway are either recently completed, under construction or in the entitlement process.

“The fact that it’s going to be more residential, we feel excited about where the city and the street is going,” Chris Skaf said, noting that their Brand Boulevard restaurant was busy at lunchtime, but traffic was light after 6 p.m.

His family owns two other locations of the restaurant, so, while the fire temporarily halted the success of their expansion, it didn’t have the same detrimental effect on them as it had on Regali Preciozo.

“It makes it easier because of the other two restaurants,” Chris Skaf said.

Like Regali Preciozo, Gold N Diamonds, operated out of the building for 15 years. Unlike its former neighbors, though, the fate of the jewelry store is still up in the air. The owner, Hazar Chircorian, said he still hasn’t decided what he will do with the business.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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