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City seeks hotel proposals for pair of downtown Glendale parking lots

City seeks hotel proposals for pair of downtown Glendale parking lots
A pair of city-owned parking lots in downtown Glendale may soon be transformed into a boutique hotel. A 2015 study suggested the need for more hotel options in the city. (City of Glendale staff report)

City officials are considering developing one or more boutique hotels on two city-owned parking lots in downtown Glendale, approving a call for proposals on Tuesday evening.

“There is an emphasis on quality,” in the proposal request, said Diane Sanchez, the city’s director of economic development, during a City Council meeting.

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Besides a minimum of “three-diamond” hotel quality, the city is asking proposals include plans to replace the 115 parking spaces the project will eliminate, a long-term ground lease and a demonstrated financial return to the city, Sanchez said.

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The separate lots are located on the northwest and southwest corners of California and Maryland avenues. The northwest corner lot spans approximately 20,000 square feet and includes 49 parking spaces. The southwest corner lot is approximately 25,000 square feet, with 66 parking spaces.

Potential developers will be given three months to submit a proposal once the official request goes out, slated for this week.

Three members of the Glendale Tenants Union spoke in opposition to the project, arguing the city should be focused on building affordable housing, as a housing crisis continues to grip Glendale and the state.

“At a time like that, to use public land to develop a hotel, is unconscionable,” union member Hayk Makhmuryan said. “It’s deeply, deeply troubling to me that you are even considering to do something like that when you are supposed to be public servants thinking about the best for everyone in Glendale.”

Councilman Vartan Gharpetian said the purpose of putting out the request for proposal, or RFP, is to see if it’s possible to develop something that could generate income that could then be spent to address the needs of residents and the city.

“That [money] could go towards building more housing, and everything else that we do,” said Gharpetian, adding that $1 million to $2 million could be the potential annual return.

Beginning in 2014, members of the city’s economic development team met with small and large hotel companies and found the industry saw potential in Glendale because its growing downtown area has attracted more visitors, employers and residents, according to a staff report.

A consultant-headed study of Glendale’s hotel-market demand was conducted at the direction of city officials in 2015. It showed the city’s hotel supply consists mostly of budget and limited-service hotels, with just two branded, high-occupancy options, which city officials interpreted as supporting the need for more hotel development, the report states.

City officials subsequently entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement for the northwest corner of California and Maryland avenues with W&W Cornerstone Development LLC. It also entered into a similar agreement for the southwest corner of the same intersection with R3 Real Estate Developers LLC.

Both agreements expired, and the city did not enter into ground-lease agreements with either company. Since the expiration of the agreements, the city continues to field inquiries about hotel development, according to the report.

Under the parameters of the soon-to-be-released proposal request, developers can submit plans for a project on one or both lots. There could be two hotels — one on each lot — or one lot could be the site of a hotel and the other used as the hotel’s parking lot.

Staff members will analyze the proposals received and then return to City Council with recommendations, Sanchez said.

Another boutique hotel is planned in Glendale’s Riverside Rancho neighborhood, with the city’s Design Review Board approving the three-story, 64-room project last week.

Located on the northwest corner of South Victory Boulevard and Winchester Avenue, what’s been referred to as the Victory Hotel, will occupy most of an approximately 21,647-square-foot lot. It will also include a two-level subterranean parking garage and second-floor pool deck.

The developer of that project, Jayesh Kumar, has two years to secure permits before the board’s approval expires.

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