City Rejects Field School Plan That Includes Shopping Area

Times Staff Writer

A plan to build a four-story upscale apartment project and a neighborhood shopping center on the vacant Field Elementary School site was informally rejected by the Glendale City Council during a study session last week.

But developers said they will be back before the city next month with revised plans.

Howard/Platz Group, a local partnership, presented the council with plans for a 254-unit development and an 18,000-square-foot shopping center less than a week after school officials accepted the firm's $610,000-a-year bid for long-term lease of the school site.

Through the study session, developers had hoped to avoid delays in obtaining city approval for the project, which is the third attempt by the school system to generate income from the 4.8-acre surplus school.

Shopping Center a Surprise

After winning the lease award in a furious bidding match with competing developers, a representative of Howard/Platz said the firm was planning to build a residential development on the site. Inclusion of the shopping center was a surprise, city officials said.

The City Council did not approve of the shopping center, which developers said would have 6 to 10 stores, because the area is predominantly residential. The project also would have exceeded the three-story height limit designated for the site in the city's general plan.

The property is zoned for single-family housing but, in the general plan, is designated for high-density development.

Will Restudy Project

"The council doesn't really want commercial there," Howard/Platz spokesman Brad Barnes said. "We're going to go back to our architects and restudy the project. It can be done without the commercial portion, but it would be much more feasible with it."

Field School, at 1039 N. Central Ave., was closed in 1981 because of declining enrollment. It is considered the district's most important unused financial asset.

Rental income will be used to reinstate sixth-period classes for seventh- and eighth-graders. Those classes were eliminated after passage of Proposition 13, the 1978 tax-cutting measure.

The project would be the largest new multiple-family housing development in the city. Plans call for one- to three-bedroom apartments and town houses, with rents projected at $700 to $1,000 a month, Barnes said.

"It's been referred to as 'yuppie' housing," Barnes said. "We're looking to rent to people on their way up, but who are not sure if they should buy a condo in town when they could be moving somewhere else."

Project Divisions

The project probably would be divided into sections for families, singles and senior citizens, Barnes said.

Developers have six months to have their plans approved by the city, according to an agreement with the Glendale Unified School District. A provision in the 65-year lease calls for a penalty of $152,000 for a 90-day extension. A second 90-day extension would cost Howard/Platz another $610,000, according to the lease provisions.

School board members hope that the development proposal will fare better than the district's two previous attempts to lease the property.

No qualified developers bid on the site when it was first offered in 1982. Last year, a developer who won district approval to lease the site for construction of a 240-unit apartment project backed out of the deal after City Council refused to issue tax-exempt bonds for the project and rejected a request to build efficiency apartments 200 square feet smaller than the city's required minimum size.

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