Rockhaven developer’s contract extended until end of November

Rockhaven as it looked in June 2016, when the city of Glendale held a tour of the site for prospective developers.
Rockhaven as it looked in June 2016, when the city of Glendale held a tour of the site for prospective developers.
(Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

A local developer tasked with transforming the former Rockhaven Sanitarium in Glendale into a boutique commercial center and park has until the end of November to provide city officials with additional information they requested.

Both the city and developer Gangi Design LED Build declined to spell out the exact request, with city spokesman Tom Lorenz citing confidentiality surrounding the parties’ exclusive negotiating agreement.

Principal lead on the Gangi proposal, Mark Gangi, said the city has previously asked for pro-forma financial agreements and letters of interest from businesses and nonprofits that have committed to moving into one of the 14 buildings on the site the developer plans to rehabilitate.

“We’re just waiting for the green light,” Gangi said, “because we have a lot of incredible people that want to come in and help energize the space.”

Prospective tenants include a farm-to-table restaurant, a sustainable winery, a hatha yoga studio and a creative lounge, Gangi said.

The current roster of potential businesses was selected, in part, as an homage to the property’s original incarnation when it opened in 1923 as a progressive women’s mental-health facility, according to Gangi.

The sanatorium, founded by nurse Agnes Richards, has also come to be associated with some of its former celebrity clientele, including Marilyn Monroe’s mother, Gladys Eley.

While Gangi said his team has been meeting all of the city’s deadlines, Lorenz said the company has repeatedly required contract extensions to fulfill the requests.

“This is the second extension, so they know what they need to do,” Lorenz said.

City Council members voted 4-0 to approve the proposal for a boutique center and public park in November 2016, sidestepping a committee recommendation to go with Avalon Investment Co.’s 45-room hotel design.

In July 2017, Gangi requested a six-month extension of its contract and was given a year, Lorenz said. This year, the contract was extended from July 31 to Nov. 30, he added.

Friends of Rockhaven, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the property, supports Gangi’s proposal.

“We think [the plan] would make this place really alive,” said Joanna Linkchort, president of Friends of Rockhaven.

Linkchort added she’s heard unsubstantiated rumors that some city officials do not think the plan is financially feasible.

A financial analysis summary from the 2016 proposal pegs the cost of opening the historic park at $4.8 million, a figure that includes rehabilitating the site’s buildings, as well as adding parking and landscaping.

With an estimated 20,000 square feet of leaseable retail space projected to come online with the project, the analysis anticipates the city would receive a large amount of sales-tax revenue.

The Gelsinger family behind the proposed on-site restaurant estimated they would sell $5 million worth of food annually, according to the proposal.

As of now, Gangi said his team is unable to begin any site rehabilitation until the city gives its approval and signs additional paperwork.

“We’re willing to do whatever we have to do to get it open,” he said.

Twitter: @lila_seidman