General Growth might be surprised on election day

As one of the individuals who has spoken out in favor of the

Americana at Brand, I feel I must respond to the letter from Steven

A. Wells (News-Press June 4).

We are not, as Mr. Wells implies, blindly pining for the Americana

at Brand in some type of altruistic stupor. Rick Caruso is one of the

busiest and most prolific developers in the country. The reason why:

He has a proven track record of producing high-quality, desirable

projects that work in harmony with the communities in which they are

situated. The Grove at Farmers Market is a shining example of this,

but also the Commons in Calabasas and the Promenade in Westlake

Village exude the same quality and functionality that are a Caruso

hallmark. Caruso has been tapped to build another mixed-use

development near another Southern California landmark, Santa Anita

Racetrack in Arcadia, and he is moving forward with another

large-scale project in Marina del Rey.

As a successful businessman, Mr. Caruso is not going to get

involved in a project in which he doesn't make money, but that is not

his sole interest. He takes pride in his work and works with the

local community, as he has with Glendale by including a residential

component, eliminating billboards and adjusting the retail mix to fit

the desires of residents.

As far as the comments by others to boycott the Glendale Galleria,

I now agree that the notion is misguided. I have come to the

conclusion that it will only serve to penalize the retailers who are

not directly associated with General Growth and to penalize Glendale

with reduced sales-tax revenue. In addition, the Glendale Galleria

draws most of its customers from outside of Glendale. These outside

residents will most likely not have a clue about the actions of

General Growth, nor will they tend to care if they don't live here,

making an effective boycott impossible.

Closing Harvard and Orange streets is absolutely necessary to the

success of the Americana at Brand. While closing streets will always

produce an increase in traffic to surrounding venues until people's

driving patterns adjust, we must ensure that the Americana at Brand

is a truly pedestrian-friendly haven. Allowing traffic to funnel

through the middle of it will not only increase noise within the

development, but it will also encourage drivers to use these streets

to cruise through to have a look rather than parking and walking in.

The result will only be increased traffic backed up onto Brand and

Central, then Colorado and Broadway.

While I was initially opposed to Rite Aid and Target being

featured as retail tenants, I think that it is imperative that Caruso

obtain that right mix of retail that will allow the Americana to be a

useful pedestrian destination for the residents of the apartments and

condos within the Americana, and for other nearby residents as well.

The addition of an upscale supermarket might also be a good idea.

This will allow people to have the option of walking to their errand

destinations rather than getting in their cars and driving there. If

the Americana encourages more people to walk, then we can partially

offset the increased traffic congestion that might develop from

street closures. If the Americana houses only upscale boutiques and

restaurants, we may lose some of this benefit. Maybe the city of

Glendale could also partner with Caruso to extend the trolley line up

Brand Boulevard, also including a stop or two inside of the Galleria,

providing synergy and unity among the three major components of our

downtown area.

Outdoor retail and residential developments are popping up all

over the country. Unfortunately, General Growth has invested heavily

in a dying breed -- the enclosed shopping mall. They can attempt to

build all the fortresses they want to around their malls and utilize

tactics to stall the progress of new developments, but they cannot

try to change what people want. City Place, a new outdoor

pedestrian-friendly development in Palm Beach, Fla., draws 7 million

visitors a year right next to the city's downtown. Even the owners of

one of the biggest enclosed malls in the country, Del Amo Fashion

Center in Torrance, are considering demolishing one portion of the

mall to include an outdoor component.

If General Growth thinks having a general election to let all

residents of Glendale vote on the Americana at Brand is going to

change the tide in their favor, all I can say is they have a big

lesson to learn. I am confident that the majority of those

individuals who care about this city and have been actively involved

in this process will come out to vote overwhelmingly in favor of Rick

Caruso and the Americana at Brand. I might even smell a landslide!



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