Brand Boulevard Revival Raising Glendale Skyline

Times Staff Writer

The long-awaited revival of Glendale's Brand Boulevard is under way, but the ground-hugging street of the past is being transformed into a high-rise corridor.

Construction has started on what will be the city's tallest building, as well as a mid-rise office/retail/entertainment complex near the massive Glendale Galleria. The long-vacant 4-acre site north of the Galleria will be home to a twin-tower complex being developed by a unit of Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Just about the only remnant of Brand's previous life as the city's major north-south retail street will be its distinctive diagonal parking.

This spurt of construction activity should reinforce Glendale's position as the third-ranking financial center in California, behind Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to William R. Boyd of the Glendale office of Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services.

"Financial service companies, including thrifts and insurance companies, occupy about 40% of the 3.14 million square feet of office space in Glendale," Boyd said. "An additional 40% is taken by service businesses, including law firms and accountants."

Vacant Lot Question

Last week's approval of Glendale City Center by the Glendale Redevelopment Agency answers those who had wondered: "What's going to be built in that vacant lot north of the Glendale Galleria?"

The more than $150-million, 790,000-square-foot office/retail project will be constructed, beginning in September, in the block bounded by Brand Boulevard on the east, Broadway on the south, Orange Street on the west and Wilson Avenue on the north.

A project of Homart Development Co., a subsidiary of Sears, Glendale City Center will feature twin office towers separated by an elaborate landscaped courtyard, according to Gino Rossetti, president of Rossetti Associates, Santa Monica, the architects.

An 18-story tower will be built in the first phase atop a parking/retail structure, followed by a 22-story tower north of it in the second phase, Rossetti said. The leasing agent for Glendale City Center is the Glendale office of Coldwell Banker.

Across the street from Glendale City Center, construction has started on Brand Passage, the first of two elements of The Exchange, a $50-million mixed-use.

22-Story Building

The Exchange, designed by the Feola/Deenihan Partnership AIA, Glendale, occupies two blocks bounded by Brand Boulevard, Wilson Avenue, Louise Street and Broadway.

About three blocks north of The Exchange, construction is under way with a May, 1990, completion on 500 N. Brand, a 22-story, 423,000-square-foot office tower by a joint venture of the Glendale-based Howard-Platz Group, Glendale Properties and General Electric Investment Corp.

The $110-million 500 N. Brand is reportedly the largest 100% speculative office building under construction in the Southland, according to Richard Dunn of the Charles Dunn Co., the leasing agent.

20% Vacancy Level

"In an office market running at a 20% vacancy level, Glendale is now approaching the single-digit range," Dunn added.

Designed by Ellerbe Beckett, Santa Monica, the 332-foot-high granite-clad tower at Brand Boulevard and Milford Street will be Glendale's tallest building.

The building will have 18,500 square feet of retail space in a two-story pavilion. There will be three levels of below-grade parking, along with five levels above ground.

Scheduled for completion in December, Brand Passage by the Howard-Platz Group is a four-story building at 130 N. Brand Blvd. with about 15,000 square feet of retail space, 40,000 square feet of offices and an 8,500-square-foot multilevel courtyard. The mixed-use development will extend street to street from Brand east to Maryland Avenue. The leasing agent is Dorn Platz & Co., Glendale. The contractor is Rowland Constructors, Phoenix, with tenant improvements by Howard Building Corp.

Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-May on the second increment of The Exchange, an eight-screen Mann Theater complex by Brand Development Co. at 130 N. Maryland Ave. The three-level complex will be highlighted--literally--by a 22-foot diameter antique, lighted glass dome that will be visible from many locations in downtown Glendale.

Each of the eight auditoriums will have a Lucas THX sound system, and several will be have 70-mm. projection systems. The complex is scheduled for a first-quarter 1990 opening.

The Glendale Redevelopment Agency is building a 742-space parking structure--scheduled for completion in June--adjacent to The Exchange, according to a spokeswoman for the agency. Feola/Deenihan is the architect for the structure.

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