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Developer seeks variances to proposed mixed-use project

A proposed mixed-use development just north of downtown would require the approval of seven variances because of its height and scale. It would also required the demolition of the Recess Eatery.
The city’s planning hearing officer will review plans on Wednesday to build a five-story, 18-unit apartment building with 3,000 square feet of restaurant space on the ground floor at the corner of Brand Boulevard and Dryden Avenue.

Seven two-bedroom units and 11 three-bedroom units are part of the design as well as an underground parking structure with 81 spaces.

The commercially zoned area has a 90-foot cap on commercial buildings, but only 36 feet or three stories on residential properties. One of the variances sought would allow the proposed structure to stand at 62 feet.

Exceptions are also being sought for density and to not provide a specific allotment of open space, according to a staff report.

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Sean Bersell, executive director of the Glendale Historical Society, lives a block and a half away from the project site and said the plans on the table are “out of whack” with the neighborhood.

“The mere fact that the applicant is requesting seven variances demonstrates that this project doesn’t fit in that location because it’s too large, it’s too massive, it doesn’t have sufficient setbacks, it doesn’t have sufficient open space and it exceeds the floor-area ratio,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s just not appropriate for that property.”

But if it is constructed, it wouldn’t be the tallest structure in the immediate area, as a nine-story mixed-use building is located at Brand and Stocker Street.

The project site is located just north of Brand and Glenoaks Boulevard. It is near the border of the Downtown Specific Plan, which governs development in downtown, and most decisions in that part of the community are made by the Glendale City Council.

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While that part of downtown promotes larger development projects, Bersell said that north of Glenoaks, the building heights drop dramatically.

“What this project is doing is having downtown creep into our neighborhood,” he said.

Aram Alajajian of Alajajian Marcoosi Architects Inc., the proposed development’s applicant, did not return phone calls for a comment.

In their report ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, staffers are recommending approval of the variances because they concluded the building would not be detrimental to nearby properties.

“The building has been designed to sensitively relate to its surrounding context and neighboring developments,” the report states.

An environmental study found the project would have “less than significant” impacts in 17 categories, except for construction-related noise.

“Even though the proposed project deviates from the C3’s mixed-use development standards, its design reflects many of the mixed-use standards adopted for mixed-used zones in other parts of the city, albeit on a much smaller scale,” the report states.

Bersell said he isn’t opposed to something be built at the corner of Brand and Dryden — a lot that he considers an eyesore — but whatever is built should comply with code.

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Besides Recess Eatery, the proposed project site currently consists of a long-abandoned gas station and a few warehouse structures and a nail salon. All structures would have to be demolished to make way for the new mixed-use structure, said Tim Foy, assistant director of community development.

The planning-hearing-officer meeting, to which the public is invited, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the 105 of the Municipal Services Building, 633 E. Broadway.

After that, the Design Review Board will conduct a final review, Foy said.

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FOR THE RECORD

June, 19, 2015, 4:22 p.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the project would house 19 units. It’s proposed to house 18 units. Also, the nine-story property mentioned at the corner of Brand Boulevard and Stocker Street is not an office building. It is a mixed use, commercial and residential structure.

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