Renovation Hard on Business, Merchants Say


A renovation project that was designed to improve the business climate has instead sparked opposition from local merchants, who say the work has brought their trade nearly to a standstill.

In August, city contractors began digging along a two-block stretch of Broadway between Brand Boulevard and Louise Street to install new brick crosswalks and decorative sidewalks. City officials said the project, expected to be completed around Thanksgiving, will spruce up the area and also complement a proposed $15-million outdoor shopping mall planned to be built in 1996 or 1997.

But Genoveva Marmo, owner of a card and gift shop at 115 E. Broadway, said the promise of new sidewalks is small comfort to the shopkeepers who have seen business shrivel up as the construction work makes it “nearly impossible” for customers to shop.


“I’ve been in business for 10 years in Glendale and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it get,” said Marmo, who has filed a claim demanding that the city compensate her store for half the rental costs since August.

“There’s no one here,” Marmo said, surveying her empty store. “I’d say I’ve lost about 50% of my customers, so I’m asking the city to pay half my rent so I can stay open. That’s all I care about.”

Although Marmo is the first to seek restitution from the city, other merchants in the affected area said they are also considering taking action to save their businesses.

Chris Edwards, who has run a barber shop at 208 1/2 E. Broadway for 30 years, said he had only one customer Wednesday, compared to an average of 10 to 15 per day before the work began.

“There’s no parking, there’s dirt everywhere and it’s not safe to walk in front because there’s no sidewalk,” Edwards said. “And tomorrow I have to close because they’re pouring concrete to lay bricks. You can’t fight the city, but if this keeps up it’s going to close me down.”

City officials said they sympathize with the merchants’ plight but stopped short of offering compensation.


City Atty. Scott Howard said he cannot recall an instance in the past 18 years when Glendale has compensated a business for the effects of road work.

“Legally, we are not required to do so. The courts have not been very sympathetic to individuals who claim business interruptions as a result of street construction, unless it’s a case when all access to the business is completely and unquestionably cut off,” Howard said.

The construction is designed to enhance both the Glendale Marketplace, a retail mall to be built south of Broadway, and a new Borders bookstore to be built at Brand and Broadway, Redevelopment Agency officials said.