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GCC acquires properties for Garfield parking-lot expansion project

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Boarded-up property at 1127 Acacia Ave., behind fencing near the Garfield Campus of Glendale Community College, is part of an expansion of the Garfield Campus to build a parking lot. The college has purchased 11 properties, so far, along Chevy Chase Drive and Acacia Avenue for the project.
(Tim Berger/Glendale News-Press)

A new addition to the south Glendale neighborhood is emerging — an expansion of the Garfield Campus of Glendale Community College.

Construction workers wrapped wire fencing around houses and apartments lining the southeast corner block of Acacia Avenue and Chevy Chase Drive about three weeks ago for the project.

The college purchased 11 residential properties for about $24 million with the help of Stevenson Real Estate Services.

The real estate company is negotiating with owners to purchase two additional houses along East Acacia Avenue and South Adams Street.

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None of the 13 residential properties was identified as a potential historic resource in the results of the South Glendale Historic Resource Survey, confirmed by city of Glendale spokeswoman Eliza Papazian.

Drew Sugars, the college’s director of communications and community relations, said the fencing is meant to prevent the mostly vacant buildings from becoming nuisances.

Although the number of people relocated to date wasn’t immediately available this week, David Viar, the school’s superintendent/president, told the college’s board of trustees about 40 residents had been relocated and 20 were still in the process of relocation during an October 2019 meeting.

“We work with them through a [third-party] company to find the housing for them that is necessary,” he said. “That’s part of what we do, and we cover the cost of that relocation.”

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The college is tapping into a $30-million budget for relocation services, in addition to purchasing and demolishing the homes to be replaced by a surface parking lot with 260 spaces.

Funding for the project comes from a 2016 voter-approved Measure GC, a $325-million facilities bond for major upgrades at the college. The expansion would add 1.4 acres to the 2.4-acre campus, according to Viar.

Roughly 4,000 students are enrolled each fall and spring semester at the Garfield Campus, located at 1122 E. Garfield Ave., seeking to continue education through courses in English as a Second Language, business, computer, parenting and life skills.

“There are times where we might have more students than we have parking spaces. Parking has been an issue there for the last several years,” Sugars said.

“We believe that a lot of the people who live in that area are very concerned because it was impacting their quality of life. We also want to make sure that there’s ease of use for our students to get in and out,” he added.

In 2017, college officials began to gauge the selling interests of 14 residential property owners surrounding the campus.

According to Sugars, the college conducted an initial study in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act. The study determined the project wouldn’t create a significant effect on the environment and didn’t require an environmental-impact report.

College officials provided notice-of-intent information to the Los Angeles County Clerk and posted signs on the campus in two locations.

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In spring 2018, the college began a 20-day public review period, during which the district didn’t receive any comments from agencies or the public.

Updates on the college’s facility improvement projects, including the Garfield Campus, are usually presented during monthly board of trustees meetings.

After the 13 properties are acquired, the Division of the State Architect will oversee the community college’s facility plans. Should the state approve construction, demolition could start in about a year.

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