College woes disappointing to local group

CITY HALL — Members of the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday expressed their disappointment over news that the Glendale Career College would not be moving into a downtown site, and that it was on the verge of financial ruin.

College representatives and their attorneys made it clear in letters to the City Attorney’s Office in February that the delayed redevelopment of 240 N. Brand Blvd. has forced the school to either close down or sell its business — an assertion that some on the board didn’t buy at the Tuesday meeting.

“It’s due to management, not the real estate issue,” said Councilman Frank Quintero, who had been a proponent of the college’s downtown relocation. “It’s too bad. It could have been a great move for the school.”

College administrators have refuted that, arguing that they are caught between commitments to the downtown project and punitive leasing terms at their current location.

Glendale Career College’s current lease at 1015 Grandview Ave. ended in March 2005, the original date at which administrators had planned to make the move. But that date was pushed back so that the school, together with developer Dorn Platz Co., could secure the necessary permit allowing 119 fewer parking spaces than would normally be required.

It took three years’ analysis and negotiations between Dorn Platz and the city to agree on a set of preconditions for the parking exception before it was finally approved in February 2007.

The three-year delay has been an expensive one, college attorneys say, mostly because the school has had to pay penalty fees for overstaying their March 2005 lease agreement. Those fees have financially drained the college to the point that it must either find a buyer or close, said Steve Davis, a Virginia-based attorney who is representing the college.

“We’ve suffered tremendous losses over the last three years,” he said.

That, combined with a city requirement that the college post a $1-million cash bond to ensure its move to another location after three years on Brand Boulevard, was just too much, Davis added.

“There’s not many people who can afford that,” he said.

Even so, the city’s three-year effort to work with multiple parties in order to reach an agreement is testament to its commitment to see the proposal through.

“I think the city did everything it could in order to facilitate [the move],” Councilman John Drayman, who also heads the agency, said Monday.

Executives for the college are currently negotiating with a potential buyer, who may carry on the institution in some form, but in the meantime, the school has closed enrollment while the remaining 200 students finish their courses, said Charles Tysinger, president of Glendale Career Schools, Inc., which owns the college.

He declined to identify the potential buyer, saying only that it was an educational company that would likely retain the college’s current administration in a buyout.

Tysinger declined to comment on the current status of negotiations, although Development Services Director Philip Lanzafame told the Redevelopment Agency that he and his staff had met with representatives for the buyer on Monday to discuss the current status of the Brand Boulevard project.

The Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday directed city attorneys to prepare a report that would finalize the revocation of the 2007 parking exception based on news of the school’s intentions. That means any new owner would have to undergo an all-new evaluation for a move into the same site should they want to do so, development officials said.


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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