Opposition to a proposed three-story, 64-room hotel in Glendale’s Rancho Riverside neighborhood was dealt a terminal blow on Tuesday when the City Council voted 4-1 to uphold the Design Review Board’s decision to approve it back in January.
Resistance to the project, called the Victory Hotel and spearheaded by developer Jayesh Kumar, was led by resident Phillip Marks, who launched an opposition website and filed an appeal of the board’s decision that was heard — and rejected — during a City Council meeting last week.
According to Marks and his supporters, the project planned at 1633 Victory Blvd. would compound traffic problems in a 20-foot public alley that is slated to be used as the entrance and exit to the hotel’s two-level, subterranean parking lot. They also list a host of other complaints.
Photos of service and delivery trucks clogging the alley, presented by Marks, as well as testimony from some residents, did not sway the majority of the council. To allay some concerns, Kumar and his team had previously agreed to set back the hotel an additional 3 feet to expand the part of the alley abutting the hotel to 23 feet.
“I got the distinct impression that the neighborhood did not want this hotel, and not because the access is from the alley,” Mayor Ara Najarian said during deliberations.
Touring the neighborhood, Najarian said he saw two “terrible” motels, a body shop and a liquor store near the proposed hotel site on the northwest corner of South Victory and Winchester Avenue.
“This hotel would be an incredibly beneficial addition to the neighborhood,” Najarian said.
Councilwoman Paula Devine cast the lone vote in favor of overturning the project’s approval, agreeing with the appellant that the alley entrance presented too many logistical problems.
Going on a fact-finding mission similar to Najarian’s, Devine said she found herself trying to turn into the alley while another car was trying to leave, causing a standstill and subsequent five-car backup.
“With everything that’s right about this project, this one glaring flaw, to me, is a killer,” Devine said. “I just don’t think it’s going to work.”
In an effort to reach a compromise, council members who supported the project added a condition that the developer expand the alley along the project by 1 more foot, bringing it to 24 feet, or the typical width of a two-way alley.
An earlier design of the hotel was unanimously rejected by the Design Review Board in June.
Board members, at the time, requested that Kumar and architect Nikhil Kamat completely redesign the building’s facades and use a more restrained color palette, redesign the pool area to limit noise impacts, enhance visual privacy for neighbors to the north and create a denser landscaped area at the property line to the north.
For the most part, Design Review Board members agreed those conditions had been addressed in the new plans.
The hotel, which will include a second-floor pool deck and cafe, was also at the center of two lawsuits.
In February, the city filed a criminal suit against Kumar for failing to maintain the property.
Less than a month after that suit was served, Kumar filed a trespassing suit against Marks and his wife.
In light of the failed appeal, Joanne Hedge, president of the Glendale Rancho Neighborhood Assn., said she’s now urging a conversation between city staff and residents to create a plan to visually upgrade Victory Boulevard’s commercial properties with revamped frontage, signage and landscaping — echoing Najarian’s comments that the area could use a cleanup.
It could possibly involve “incentives or other creative means the city deems effective,” Hedge said.