Rockhaven plans put on the shelf

Glendale officials are putting on hold a plan to build on portions of a historic sanitarium after early development proposals fell flat with Crescenta Valley preservationists.

After meeting with community members to share the proposals for the city-owned Rockhaven, stakeholders weren't happy with any of the plans, which included senior housing, a private school, market-rate condominiums and affordable housing.

Now officials are giving preservationists a year to try and collect grants or donations that could subsidize turning the roughly 3.4-acre site bounded by Pleasure Way and Honolulu, Hermosa and La Crescenta avenues, into a public park.

"If we couldn't make this a consensus-driven, community-driven project, then the timing isn't right," said City Manager Scott Ochoa, adding that some residents had hoped to see more imaginative proposals than the ones received.

Glendale bought Rockhaven in 2008 for $8.25 million to save it from development. However, as the city's finances shrank because of the protracted recession, the city planned to open the door to development as an attempt to preserve some of Rockhaven's historic character.

The plan was to make the development a public-private partnership, with any final proposal including public access and adaptive reuse of historic buildings since Glendale doesn't have the money to improve the property on its own.

Rockhaven, built in 1923, has about 1.2 acres of vacant parcels near the middle bounded by historic structures and protected trees as well as a Glendale Water & Power well.

Some of the proposals received last month didn't include much public space, such as a 360-student college preparatory school that was pitched. Others did, but they missed the mark, preservationists said.

"There was too much housing and not enough parkland," said Mike Lawler, program chair of the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley.

One proposal included 100 to 150 units of market-rate senior housing, a children's educational center and a public park with a playground, bocce ball court, duck pond and amphitheater, according to city documents.

Another recommended 47 condo units with a community room and a 1-acre public park that would have been controlled by a homeowners association.

A third suggested 76 affordable housing units and a 36,000-square-foot public park.

"I want some time to aim higher," said Joanna Linkchorst, president of Friends of Rockhaven, which works to maintain the facility and lead tours. "We want to see if we can achieve something more."

Linkchorst is now on the hunt for funds. Crescenta Valley preservationists are looking for grants and donations in an attempt to forgo development. But in a year from now if they are not successful, the city may restart the proposal process.

"It's daunting because this is a really huge task," Linkchorst said. "It's also very exciting that we might actually be able to do something, we have this opportunity to do something really big."

For more information about efforts to raise money for Rockhaven, email

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