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Portion of downtown Glendale slated for pedestrian-friendly redesign

Artsakh Avenue one-way street redesign rendering
A rendering shows a proposed plan to turn two blocks of Artsakh Avenue in Glendale into a one-way street with an extended sidewalk for public use. Headed into a more detailed design phase, the $7.3-million project is expected to be completed in 2021.
(Courtesy of the city of Glendale )

A portion of downtown Glendale is headed for an extensive makeover intended to activate an area that’s struggled to attract the same hustle and bustle as neighboring streets.

Artsakh Avenue, the heart of Glendale’s art and entertainment district, is slated to be turned into a one-way street with an extended sidewalk and ample pedestrian space, under a conceptual design approved by Glendale City Council members last week during a special meeting.

“I think it’s going to really make a difference,” Councilman Frank Quintero said of the project. “I think it’s going to become more of a place to gather.”

Expected to be completed by spring 2021, the project carries a price-tag of about $7.3 million, according to a city report.

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The design was chosen over an alternate option to develop two pedestrian-only plazas on the north and south portions of Artsakh, enhancing an existing paseo installed several years ago on the street between Broadway and Wilson.

However, the selected project could eventually be expanded to include an additional plaza with council’s direction, said Bradley Calvert, the city’s assistant director of community development.

According to Councilwoman Paula Devine, business owners near the paseo told her that eliminating all car traffic stifled business, but slow-moving traffic could augment it.

“The slower it moves, the more they see, and they’ll spot you and say, ‘I didn’t know you were here, and now I know and I’ll be back,’” Devine said, using the conditions in the nearby Montrose Shopping Park as an example.

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For special events, the area could be temporarily cut-off from car traffic, Calvert said.

A video featuring a virtual walk-through of the one-way street project showed the north side of Artsakh half-occupied by a colorful sidewalk dotted with tables, chairs and umbrellas. Food trucks abutted the traffic lane where cars could still head south along the street, and lights hung overhead.

On the south side, the walk-through showed examples of potential public art installations and a stage area that could be set up for special events.

Now that the design scheme has been selected, consultant Studio One Eleven will produce more detailed plans for the project’s lighting, hardscape, landscape, signage and street improvements, in addition to crafting a public-art strategy and fine-tuning cost estimates.

A presentation on those plans is expected to arrive in December.

When Artsakh, previously called Maryland Avenue, was developed about 30 years ago, it was expected to be a vibrant area adjacent to Brand Boulevard, “but it never lived up to those expectations,” Mayor Ara Najarian said.

The hope is that this project will finally breathe life into what the city designated as its art and entertainment district in 2012.

“It’s quite an investment; we haven’t given up on this area,” Najarian said. “I don’t know what else the city could do to energize a two-block area.”

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Andrew Bucki, an executive from a dine-in movie theater chain that will be moving into the area, said his team was excited by the prospect of a city-helmed revitalization project.

“Frankly, that helped sway us to want to pursue a deal even more,” said Bucki of Studio Movie Grill, which is moving into the former Five Star Cinema site,“and we’re … excited about being the newest member of the Glendale community.”

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