‘Apathetic Attitude’ : Glendale Raps Contractor for Garage Delay

Times Staff Writer

Glendale city officials are blaming delays in the construction of a downtown parking garage on the contractor’s “general apathetic attitude” and are threatening fines and legal action.

The 741-space parking garage on Maryland Avenue between Broadway and Wilson Avenue was supposed to be an impetus to the renovation of deteriorated buildings in a two-block area between Brand Boulevard and Louise Street.

Instead, the eight-floor garage, which was to open last September in time for the Christmas shopping season, is now delayed at least until the end of July, city officials said this week.

As a result, the city has had to put off a $1.3-million street improvement project because the contractor’s heavy equipment is in the way. Construction of a new three-story arcade linking the garage with shops on Brand Boulevard also has been slow to start, now scheduled in about a month.

Both the city and the contractor, Taylor Woodrow Construction Corp. of Irvine, blame each other for the delays and are threatening legal action.

City officials said the contractor may be fined $1,000 for each day completion is overdue. The contractor charges that the city owes it almost $300,000 for city-caused cost overruns because of changes in plans and delays.

The dispute pits the city against one of the world’s largest developers. Taylor Woodrow, which reports an annual business of $1.3 billion according to the current edition of the International Directory of Company Histories, is based in London with its U.S. headquarters in New York. Among its many projects is the $310-million expansion of John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

Complaints Ignored

Glendale officials said their $6.8-million garage project apparently is getting short shrift from the contractor and that repeated questions and complaints about delays have been largely ignored.

Susan Shick, the city’s former executive redevelopment director, wrote to the developer in September that his letters were “inaccurate and contentious.”

Alexander Pyper, Glendale building superintendent in charge of the project, also pleaded in a letter sent in September to Taylor Woodrow for the company to clarify or explain repeated delays. Pyper suggested that if a company official “made a mistake” in the agreement with the city, “it would be appreciated if he would be mature enough to state so.”

In the city’s most recent letter, sent March 29 to Taylor Woodrow, Frank Manzano, Glendale city attorney, chided the company for its “lack of response and general apathetic attitude.” He called for an “immediate meeting” to discuss the concerns.

Manzano said Tuesday that he has not had a reply. “I had hoped that they would call me immediately,” Manzano said, “but I have not heard a thing from them.”

Not Aware of Letter

Gareth Evans, a vice president of Taylor Woodrow in the Irvine office, said Tuesday he was not aware of Manzano’s letter nor the specific complaints from Glendale. He referred calls to David Holmes, the contractor’s project manager.

Holmes declined comment, referring calls instead to Richard Johnson, the company’s president in New York. Johnson has failed to return calls from The Times.

The city in November hired an outside construction management firm “to provide documentation of the progress of work in anticipation of Taylor Woodrow’s legal action against the city,” according to a memo sent to City Manager James Ramsay by George Miller, public works director.

The cost of the watchdog contract is $90,000.