College to ask for exemption

DOWNTOWN — Glendale Career College’s new owners will go before the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday to ask the city to request the same parking requirement exemption offered to the previous owners.

In early 2007, college officials proposed leasing the first floor and basement of 240 N. Brand Blvd., which houses 24-Hour Fitness on the second floor, after the school’s lease on Grandview Avenue expires. But the Brand site would have required them to provide 119 parking spaces, which the building doesn’t have.

So the Redevelopment Agency in February 2007 approved a parking exception that would have leased the college 119 spaces in the nearby Orange Street Garage, only to revoke it a year later after Glendale Career College officials said they lacked the funds to continue operating.

But on April 15, North-West College acquired the school for an undisclosed amount, after fielding offers from other potential buyers, thus paving the way for the project to move forward again, Glendale Career College Vice President Mitchell Fuerst said.

The college’s proposed location, on the corner of Brand Boulevard and California Avenue, would now, under new zoning regulations, require a 135-parking-space exception, although Fuerst said there would not be more than 75 students parking at a time.

Fuerst is hoping that the low number of anticipated students, and the fact that they are seeking about 22,600 less square footage than previous owners were, will help ensure passage of the college officials’ request.

School officials had previously proposed leasing about 29,500 square feet of the first floor and basement area with a 119-parking-space exemption at 240 N. Brand Blvd., but they are now looking to lease only 6,900 square feet — 5,300 square feet for classrooms and 1,600 square feet for offices.

After North-West College purchased the school in April, officials were forced to reduce its enrollment capacity from 200 students to 150.

As of May 12, enrollment at the school totaled 106 students, more than 80% of whom were enrolled in the school’s Surgical Technologists and Licensed Vocational Nurses courses, according to college filings.

College officials also slashed some programs but said their core principle remains unchanged.

“We fully believe that residents of the city of Glendale and the surrounding community deserve access to these crucial training programs, three of which are among the fastest-growing occupations in the nation,” Fuerst said.

The new application, including its smaller square-footage request, has at least one Redevelopment Agency member feeling better about the project.

“The application is offering to be a much smaller footprint and has fewer parking requirements,” Councilman Bob Yousefian said. “The property requested isn’t as large as it was before. I was very uncomfortable giving such a huge number, and retail space isn’t taken out of the equation; that would be more consistent with what we’ve been trying to put in Brand Boulevard.

“Considering all the factors, it’s not that bad. They should at least get a fair hearing.”

The college would pay $45 a month for each of the parking spaces in the Orange Street Garage, which would provide added income to the city, Fuerst said.

In having its students park in the Orange Street structure, which officials said is operating at half capacity, Brand Boulevard’s parking spaces would not be inundated with students’ vehicles, Fuerst said, adding that the students could also be a boon to the surrounding community.

“It is our full belief that students provide economic benefit to Downtown merchants,” Fuerst said. “They frequent Porto’s, the beauty supply shop and several merchants downtown.”

The Redevelopment Agency meets at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Council chambers, 613 E. Broadway, 2nd floor.


 JEREMY OBERSTEIN covers business, politics and the foothills. He may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at jeremy.oberstein@latimes.com.

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