L.A. Firm Will Plan ‘Old Town’ : Redevelopment: Officials envision a two-block district similar to The Exchange, but hope to draw major discount stores to attract shoppers.


The Glendale Redevelopment Agency has selected a Los Angeles specialist in retail development to guide plans for renovation and redevelopment of a two-block area south of The Exchange outdoor shopping mall.

JMB/Urban Development Co., in association with the TolkinGroup, was selected Tuesday from among five developers who offered to participate in development of an “Old Town” shopping district by renovating and replacing buildings in an area bounded by Brand Boulevard, Harvard and Louise streets and Broadway.

The development would be similar to The Exchange, a combination of old and new shops with brick walkways, restaurants, boutiques and a multiplex theater north of Broadway.


But city officials said they are hoping some major discount stores also could be persuaded to locate in the expanded project, which would attract more patrons to the shopping district.

The brick paving, median divider, fountains and palm trees that were used to convert a one-block stretch of Maryland Avenue north of Broadway into a largely pedestrian street would be extended a block south to Harvard Street, officials said.

Merchants in The Exchange have struggled, and several have been forced out of business since that mall was completed about two years ago.

The city is sponsoring a promotional campaign to help boost business, but many of the storefronts are vacant and, earlier this month, a bank that financed a portion of The Exchange was forced to take over ownership in a foreclosure proceeding.

Details of the “Old Town” project are expected to be worked out between the agency and JMB during the next six months before a development agreement is formulated, Redevelopment Director Jeanne Armstrong said.

Methods of financing have not been specified but are expected to combine public and private funds.


The city plans to help build a second multilevel urban garage, similar to the one at The Exchange, to provide parking for the renovated area and for the Central Library at 222 E. Harvard St.

Conceptual plans for the “Old Town” project were approved by the agency almost three years ago, but the city had been unable to interest developers.

Armstrong said the city has since identified a need for “value and promotional” types of tenants that draw high volumes of patrons but do not have stores in Glendale.

While it is not a part of the proposal, JMB also is suggesting that the “Old Town” district be expanded into blocks east and north of the project to provide low-cost condominium housing for seniors. That idea, which is designed to draw more pedestrian traffic into the downtown area, was first proposed more than a decade ago but was dropped as premature.

Officials of JMB said the development team has recently completed projects in Old Town Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Ana and Valencia.