Galleria is ordered to redo signs

CITY HALL — The Glendale Galleria has until Oct. 1 to get a plan for more permanent signs at its Central Avenue entrance approved after the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday made it clear that the hastily installed vinyl signs they put up don’t cut it.

The large banner signs — which tout the mall and some of its stores — were attached to the all-brick facade of the Central Avenue entrance several weeks ago as the significance of the entryway changed with the opening of the Americana at Brand across the street.

But the signs were illegal under city code, putting the Redevelopment Agency in the awkward position on Tuesday of considering a request for a rules variance after the banners had already been installed.

Councilman Dave Weaver took issue with the after-the-fact process, saying the Galleria “needs to get their act together,” in between comments from the majority of his colleagues that the design of the banners was inadequate and too low-end.

“I’m not thrilled about the idea that it happened in this manner,” Mayor John Drayman said. “I don’t think [the banners] speak well for the city. I don’t think they speak well for the Galleria.”

But according to JoAnne Brosi, senior general manager for the Glendale Galleria, the important thing was that the banners spoke at all as the 250 merchants inside the mega-mall grew concerned of their ability to attract customers during the Americana’s grand opening.

“I really work for 250 tenants,” she told the agency Tuesday.

“So my decisions were totally based on that, and that’s what I did this for.”

The Glendale Galleria had planned to ask for a six-month variance just prior to the Americana’s May 3 opening to the public, she said, but it didn’t meet the requirement to publicly notice the hearing 10 days beforehand, forcing it to be rescheduled.

By then, she said the signs were already fabricated, and mall merchants were anxious to have them installed as hype surrounding the Americana reached an all-time high.

“This is not where I wanted to be today in terms of creating ill will with all of you,” Brosi said. “Unfortunately, I did not understand the process that well.”

The Central Avenue Glendale Galleria entrance, once considered a back entryway, is now a more important customer portal as it sits directly across from the Americana’s primary vehicle entrance and new pedestrian intersection, city officials said.

While throngs of shoppers have been seen crossing between the two shopping venues, Galleria executives have played down the drawing power of the Americana, touting the mall’s history of 26 million visitors a year as proof that they are viable on their own terms.

At the same time, the mall’s corporate owner, General Growth Properties, has already put in about six 30-foot high palm trees, and is upgrading the landscaping and lighting to enhance the entrance area, according to city reports.

But their move to go ahead with the signs as a temporary display until a more permanent signage plan is developed fell flat with the Redevelopment Agency, a dual role of the City Council.

“It looks, how can I say it cheap,” Councilman Bob Yousefian told Galleria executives of the banners.

Most of his colleagues wanted the Glendale Galleria to develop a signage plan that would include higher-quality materials for more permanent changes to the entrance area. And plans to encase the vinyl signs in aluminum frames to match the lighting fixtures did not impress the agency.

As part of its sign variance approval, the agency gave the mall until Oct. 1 to have plans for more permanent physical changes submitted and approved, or face the likelihood of having to deal with no signs at all.

“I really don’t want to see vinyl banners handing on the side of the Galleria during Christmas,” Drayman 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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