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School won’t go downtown

CITY HALL — Glendale Career College is no longer accepting new students as it pitches itself to potential buyers, three years after it was considered a vital part of a proposed downtown redevelopment project.

In a Feb. 25 letter to the city that was released last week, attorneys for the college said project delays for the proposed mixed-use development at 240 N. Brand Blvd. have caused “substantial damage to [Glendale Career College’s] business, resulting in the need to either sell or close the school.”

The Redevelopment Agency today — in response to the news, which caught some city officials off guard — is expected to revoke the necessary parking permit that would have allowed the college to join the proposed development. “It’s both a shock and a shame,” said Councilman John Drayman, chairman of the agency.

Representatives for the developer, Dorn Platz Co., could not be reached for comment, nor could attorneys for the college, but college Director Serjik Kasachekian said owners had tentatively decided to continue operations long enough to graduate the current 200 students before closing down at its current location at 1015 Grandview Ave. He declined to elaborate on how the development delays specifically damaged the college’s financial situation, but said a representative was scheduled to appear before the agency today to answer questions.

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Kasachekian said college officials were in talks with a “possibly interested” party to purchase the school, but he was unsure what a successful deal would mean for the college, which offers vocational degrees in medical office administration, technicians, massage therapy and nursing programs.

In a Feb. 8 letter to the city, attorneys for the college indicated it was possible that a buyer might elect to move forward with the 240 N. Brand Blvd. development, but the Redevelopment Agency’s anticipated revocation of the parking exception permit at its meeting today would mean a buyer would have to undergo an all-new evaluation, development officials said, since the permit was contingent upon a list of preconditions.

“If those aren’t going to happen, then it’s appropriate to revoke the prior approval and then go forward from there,” Development Services Director Philip Lanzafame said.

Development officials and city planners worked extensively with Dorn Platz and college officials over two years to work out the conditions of the three-year parking exception permit.

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The 119-space, three-year exemption would have been activated when the college moved into the new space, and included a $1-million bond guarantee with the city that the school would move out of the space on or before the end of the three-year term, according to city reports.

It also included an informal commitment to move into a new location on San Fernando Road after the Brand Boulevard site, and a pledge to provide $75,000 in scholarships for medical assistant or medical office secretary programs. While city officials said they had been anticipating the need to revoke the parking exception, news that the college might disappear altogether had agency members anxious for a more in-depth update.

“I really don’t know what their situation is,” Mayor Ara Najarian said, adding that he intended to quiz college representatives today about what went wrong. “It was our understanding that they were a very solid institution.”

With the Glendale Career College out of the picture, the agency will likely refocus its efforts on finding a new tenant for the prime retail location that could “spin business off” to nearby businesses, Drayman said.

“In a sense, it’s an opportunity,” he said.

The Redevelopment Agency meets at 2:30 p.m. today in City Council Chambers, 613 E. Broadway.



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