Hopes for New Auditorium Put Repairs on Hold

Times Staff Writer

The Glendale City Council this week voted to study replacement of the civic auditorium instead of trying to repair the 48-year-old structure.

"We not only need, but deserve a new auditorium," Councilman Larry Zarian said, labeling a proposed $1.2-million renovation of the Glendale Civic Auditorium a "patch-up job."

The council directed City Manager James Rez to solicit bids from consulting firms to study site locations, the size of facility needed, parking requirements and possible sources of financing for a new auditorium, which has an estimated price tag of at least $4 million.

Rez said one consultant estimated that such a study would cost $20,000 to $40,000 and require at least 10 weeks.

Special Meeting

The action followed a special meeting last week at which the council voted, 3 to 2, against authorizing major renovation of the auditorium until it received information on replacement of the 60,000-square-foot building on North Verdugo Road, next to Glendale Community College.

Councilman John F. Day and Mayor Jerold F. Milner agreed to delay authorization of major repairs, providing Zarian the votes he needed to turn back a motion to begin immediate renovation, the action favored by council members Ginger Bremberg and Carl W. Raggio.

At the meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Henry Agonia presented the council with a list of major repairs needed for the auditorium, improvements consultants say would help generate a profit for the facility, used now nearly every weekend for trade shows, dances, seminars and local meetings.

Expensive Repairs

Essential to continued use of the auditorium, consultants say, are $800,000 in repairs to the roof, floors, ceilings, walls and mechanical systems, and another $400,000 for elevators, improved fire sprinklers, a new entrance, a kitchen and rooms for storage, meeting and arts and crafts.

Once the repairs are done, the city can expect to increase demand for the auditorium by 150 events annually, and by 1990 earn $50,000 over expenses every year, according to a nine-month study by consultants EdCon of Thousand Oaks.

But the EdCon study considered renovation rather than replacement.

With folding chairs, the main floor of the auditorium can hold up to 1,500 people, with room for another 400 in the hall's lower level and another 100 in the Terrace Room, next to the main floor.

The auditorium, built in 1938 by the federal Works Progress Administration, has been found by consultants to be structurally sound but badly in need of repair.

Profit Not Motive

Although EdCon reported that the renovated auditorium could become a moneymaking city enterprise, the council agreed with Bremberg, who said that the facility should not be considered a revenue source.

"If we can have a safe auditorium and break even, we would be ahead; we would be serving the city." Bremberg said. "We should not consider it an enterprise."

Last year, operation of the auditorium lost about $18,000, Agonia said. Besides repairs, EdCon recommended that the city raise its rental rates to match fees charged by competing facilities.

Resident Opposed

Speaking against replacement of the auditorium, resident Gene Blankenship told the council that many local organizations would not be able to afford the fees likely to be charged at a new facility.

The city will also have to decide what to do with the adjacent Verdugo Swim Stadium and 50-meter pool--so decrepit its piping system loses 2,000 gallons of water a day.

Consultants estimate that replacing the swimming facility with a 25-meter pool and new bleachers would cost nearly $1 million. The pool is now used 12 weeks during the summer.

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