Major changes in a proposed office tower and medical building complex at a key Glendale site were revealed Tuesday in the first public hearing on the project.
The latest proposal for a 2.5-acre site at Central Avenue and the Ventura Freeway calls for construction of a single 18-story office building, flanked by plazas and backed by a nine-level, partly subterranean parking garage.
Developers initially had proposed a 17-story office tower and a separate seven-story medical office building. Plans were redesigned last month in the wake of criticisms in an independent environmental study and objections voiced by local residents, said Marlene Roth, consultant to the developers.
The site adjoins the 18-story Park Towers condominium development on Pioneer Drive west of Central Avenue. The project would replace a three- to six-story medical building and a surface parking lot. The new proposal also would allow for widening of Central Avenue at the busy intersection with the freeway, just outside the boundaries of the downtown redevelopment zone.
A major project on the key location has been planned for years by Glendale developer Gary Tobian, who is also a city planning commissioner, and his partners, Hillman Development Co. of Glendale and Kajima Development Co. of Los Angeles. They have said they expect the development to serve as a gateway into the downtown area.
The joint hearing Tuesday of the five-member City Council and three-member Environmental and Planning Board was held to receive the first public comments on a draft environmental impact report on the project. Council and board members voted unanimously to refer the report back to the environmental board for preparation of a final report, expected to be completed by summer.
The project requires a zone change and General Plan amendment to allow a 406,210-square-foot commercial office development at 655 N. Central Ave.
The only public concerns on the project voiced Tuesday were by Marty Hameline, a representative of the Park Towers Homeowners Assn. He said a survey of the 800 residents of the twin tower condominium complex indicates that while 80% support a new development, they are concerned about increased traffic congestion on Pioneer Drive and obstruction of views by adjoining development.
After reviewing the latest plans revealed by developers Tuesday, Hameline said he is encouraged by changes that include a landscaped roof on the parking garage, which could be used by area residents as a neighborhood park, and a proposed grove of trees to serve as a buffer between the garage and neighboring condominiums.
The new plan also is designed to protect the view of the Verdugo Mountains, enjoyed by residents living in the older, single-family houses that line the south side of Pioneer Drive.
Roth said developers are taking seriously any criticisms of the project. "You need to be willing to look at those issues and make some changes," she told city officials Tuesday. She also said developers "are not really finished with the planning process" on the project. Additional meetings between the developers and residents are expected within the next few weeks, she said.