Glendale Unified’s property swap awaits city’s consideration

The Glendale Unified school board has agreed to a property exchange with Carmel Partners. If the City Council agrees, the district will turn over its headquarters at 223 N. Jackson St. for a 116,000-square foot, six-story building located on 425 E. Colorado St.
(File Photo)

Speculation, planning and debate gave way to a possible property exchange agreement between Glendale Unified and Carmel Partners along with a new plan for a park, though plans for the district’s headquarters were not discussed.

The district is now waiting for Glendale officials to consider the swap and possibly work together to design the green space.

“We’ll get together with the mayor and City Council, and we’re waiting for the next step,” said Greg Krikorian, school board president, who noted that property exchange talks have been taking place for at least five years. “We, as a board and as a district are excited about the opportunity and benefits to the district and the community that this exchange brings. We are hopeful this process will move smoothly and [will work] for the school district, community and the greater good of the operation.”

Krikorian was hopeful the city would act on the swap sometime in September.

At the last board meeting on July 17, the board agreed on a series of action items highlighted by the exchange of properties with Santa Monica-based Carmel Partners.

If the City Council agrees, Glendale Unified will give up its current 38,000-square-foot, four-story headquarters located on 223 N. Jackson St., along with almost all of the parking lot on the site, and two apartment complexes owned by the city — one on Palmer Avenue and another on Jackson Street — would be refurbished by Carmel, which was a concern raised by the residents who currently rent there.

In return, Glendale Unified would take possession of a 116,000-square foot building and parking structure located at 425 E. Colorado St.

“The property exchange will give us a 21st-century building,” board member Shant Sahakian said. “It’s going to help us meet the needs of our 26,000 students and 2,600 employees.”

The new building alleviates several problems for the district, not the least of which is parking.

Currently, the district provides 155 parking spots on its lot and through various agreements with areas businesses, including a nearby Ralph’s parking lot.

The new venue has a parking structure with 355 spots.

In addition to parking, the building’s additional size would allow for the creation of a parent center and professional development facility.

The district’s would-be headquarters was built in 1984, which makes it 12 years newer than the current building.

That age difference is also pivotal in terms of renovations, according to school officials.

If the district were to stay at its current location on Jackson Street, district chief business and financial officer Stephen Dickinson estimated the district would have to spend at least $40 million on renovations.

Those costs include at least $9 million toward construction of a multi-tier parking lot, $6.5 million for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning upgrades, along with electrical, plumbing and elevator needs, $5 million for fire-safety improvements and another $5 million for seismic retrofitting.

“If we make the decision to stay in this building permanently, we are up against some substantial costs,” Dickinson said.

On the flip side, Dickinson estimated the Colorado Street building would need only $3 million to $5 million in refurbishments.

The cherry on top of Carmel’s exchange may be two parcels on the Jackson Street property, which the district did not swap.

The district voted to seek a joint-use agreement with the city of Glendale to turn Lots 5 and 7, where portable classrooms are currently located near Daily High School, into a park.

“The city knows that we’re serious about this public space and that we’re willing to work with them so that part of our — what is GUSD’s property now — can benefit the community as a public space and green space,” said board member Nayiri Nahabedian, who congratulated Sahakian, who initially proposed the park. “It’s been a long road in trying to figure out all the details. It’s a new addition and positive addition.”

Along with the swap, the district will also pay Carmel $6.95 million as a cash payment at the close of escrow.

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