Americana condos aiming high

DOWNTOWN — Gabriela Walsh, a Valencia resident who works in Glendale, had her heart set on buying a condo at the Americana at Brand — until she learned it would cost her more than $700,000.

Americana developer Caruso Affiliated recently announced that prices for the 100 condo units in the retail, residential and entertainment megaplex will start in the “low $700,000s” and cap at more than $2 million.

“That’s a bit out of my range,” Walsh said. “For that location, I would say give me a beach view and I might think differently.”

Walsh had planned to first rent one of the 238 apartments, where leases will range from about $2,000 per month to about $5,500 per month, because she was told the rental units would be available sooner than the condos. She already put down a $250 deposit for a rental unit, but buying at the Americana now seems out of the picture, she said.

“I think that for sure I’ll rent indefinitely,” Walsh said.

The highest priced condos are 2-bedroom, 2 1/2 -bath units that overlook the Americana’s 2-acre public park named “The Green,” said Rick Caruso, Caruso Affiliated president and chief executive officer.

While the same approximately $2-million investment could fetch some of the most luxurious single-family residences, equipped with pools, private yards and up to five bedrooms in the Glendale hills, Caruso says that built into the price tag of an Americana condo is a lifestyle and living experience that’s beyond comparison to other properties in the regional market.

“It’s a different world now out there because there is nothing like the Americana or the Excelsior to compare it against, not only the quality of the units and the way they’re fitted out, but also to be in the environment where you’ve got the restaurants, you’ve got a park to be at, and it’s all in this beautifully landscaped, safe environment,” Caruso said.

Amenities for Americana residents are meant to offer a living experience that mimics a five-star resort: Residents who want a couple of steaks, finished medium rare, and a bottle of red Bordeaux but don’t feel like cooking? They can put in a call to the Americana concierge service, which will deliver food prepared by Americana eateries, Caruso said.

The same uniformed concierges will also assist residents with gift-wrapping, coordinate special events, place wake-up calls and take resident dogs for a walk.

“It’s a pretty special place to live,” he said.

And according to Caruso, there’s plenty of initial interest. At least 2,000 people have signed up to get more information about the condominiums and apartments, he said.

Rob Miller, who lives in the San Fernando Valley and works in Glendale as a television writer, is not one of them. Nor does he believe there’s real interest in the Los Angeles region among deep-pocketed buyers to move to Glendale.

“In today’s market, who’s going to live there?” Miller asked, as he and a group of writing colleagues traded jabs about the Americana’s high prices over lunch outside the Glendale Marketplace.

Price aside, Roger Powell, another writer, wondered who would want to live above a shopping mall.

“We were discussing yesterday how annoying it would be to live above The Grove,” Powell said.

But Caruso says there are a few key demographics taking interest in the project. For one, condo-curious buyers who have considered downtown Los Angeles but shy away from its grittiness have a cleaner, safer alternative in the Americana, he said. There’s also the crowd of studio executives who may live bicoastal lifestyles and prefer to shed the responsibilities of maintaining a single-family home, but still want luxury, he said.

Gerri Cragnotti, a Glendale-based Realtor and staunch Americana booster, said she expects the Americana to entice well-off retirees looking to scale down but not leave Glendale.

That demographic has typically relocated to Pasadena or the Palm Springs area, a trend Cragnotti ties to a dearth of high-end condominiums in Glendale.

“That lifestyle was supported there and not here, but now we have it,” she said.


 RYAN VAILLANCOURT covers business, politics and the foothills. He may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at ryan.vaillancourt@latimes.com.

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