The Greggs have long history of building in Glendale

Karen S. Kim

Gregg's Artistic Homes might have lost its chance to develop the

Oakmont View V hillside property, but over the past 70 years, the

Gregg family has built more than its fair share of Glendale.

More than 3,000 homes in the city have been developed by the

Greggs since Alice Lee Gregg started the business in 1934. Gregg

homes are mainly in northwest and northeast Glendale and La

Crescenta.

"In those areas, it's hard to drive around without seeing one of

our homes," Vice President Bob Gregg said.

Gregg's Artistic Homes was established in 1934, when the company's

current president, John Gregg, was only a year old. His father fell

ill with tuberculosis, and his mother became the family's

breadwinner.

She used the family's life savings to buy a piece of property on

Cumberland Road near Brand Park. Without a degree in architecture or

engineering, Alice Lee Gregg designed and eventually built a home

that she turned around and sold for about $6,000.

The home still stands.

"She always liked drawing plans, and she was very talented from an

arts standpoint," John Gregg said. "She had a great knack for

building very usable plans from a women's perspective."

From the success of her first home, Alice Lee Gregg began a

career, buying properties, building homes and selling them. She had

always wanted to be a developer, though she studied history in

college, at her parents' request.

She became the first female licensed general contractor in

California soon after she designed her first home, John Gregg said.

Over the next five years, Alice and her husband, who recovered from

his illness, made a living buying property and building homes. Their

homes are scattered throughout the city, including on Verdugo Circle

and Oak Circle.

The business shut down during World War II because of the slow

economy, but began to prosper again after the war.

John Gregg joined the business in 1958, when he handled the

development of 14 homes on a 3-acre property on Capistrano Circle.

Bob Gregg joined the business in 1961 and now oversees construction.

John Gregg's son, Lee Gregg, acts as company counsel.

"I should work less, but I want to stay active, and I'm reluctant

to hang it up," said John Gregg, 69. "The satisfaction of having

taken a piece of land, subdividing it, building a house ... is such a

wonderful feeling."

The Greggs built more than 300 homes on a hillside development

project called Oakmont View I, II, III and IV. It was when they

proposed building Oakmont View V, a 572-unit housing project on 238

acres, in 1989 that the business ran into trouble.

The project would be delayed and debated and litigated over the

next decade because city officials and residents wanted to preserve

the open space. The City Council denied the project in March. Last

week, it purchased the site for $25.25 million.

"We are the largest home builder in the history of Glendale," John

Gregg said. "And that business has not been able to get a building

permit since 1989. The city has put us out of business."

Over the past 12 years, the Greggs have made money through some

rental properties and joint ventures outside of Glendale. But they

have not built anything substantial in Glendale during that time

because of the fuss over Oakmont View V, John Gregg said.

The Greggs say they will continue to work in Glendale. The

developers are seeking opportunities to build homes that are

affordable for the less affluent in the community, they said.

"We're not ones to give up," John Gregg said. "We hope to be able

to provide more housing for the people of Glendale, and I'm not

ashamed of wanting to do it. We've always thought that producing

housing is a noble pursuit."

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