Owners pitch apartment plan to residents

MONTROSE — Owners of a 94-year-old Craftsman-style home at the center of a controversial plan to raze the structure held an open house Saturday to assuage residents' concerns that the site's proposed five-unit apartment complex would harm the neighborhood.

The open house inside the three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit at 2128 Glenada Ave. was the first chance for many critics of the proposed complex to see the interior of what is believed to be the oldest house in Montrose.

“I've never been inside,” said Debbie Nicholas, president of the homeowners association of the condominium complex next door. “Now that I've seen it, I can say that it's a real pity it will be torn down.”

Nicholas, like most others milling about the home Saturday, feared that the planned apartment complex — five two-story apartment buildings, each with three bathrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms and at least two parking spaces per unit — would greatly increase traffic on the small cul-de-sac less than a mile from Montrose Avenue.

Others fear that the complex would cause property values to decrease and that the constant turnover of tenants in the proposed units would create a sense of transience on Glenada Avenue, where many residents have lived for years, including the four families that live in the remaining Craftsman-style homes.

“The reality of the situation is that it will affect parking,” said David Valencia, who lives in one of the Craftsman homes on Glenada.

Property owners Razmik Tahmasian and Gevorg Voskanian, who purchased the historic home in 2000 for about $350,000 and rented it out sporadically for the past eight years, are required to provide two parking spaces per unit. But critics say providing the minimum number will not suffice.

“You're going to have 10 more cars on the street,” Valencia said. “It's a worst-case scenario, but it is a scenario.”

Though opposed to the project, Valencia and others marveled at the architectural renderings made available for residents to peruse.

“The plans are beautiful,” he said.

Those plans include maintaining some of the old-world charm of the nearly 100-year-old home, such as preserving the historic stone wall that lines the front of the property and keeping the hulking Deodara tree on the front lawn, said architect Bruce Labins.

“This is a vintage property, and people are emotional,” he said. “I understand that. We're very conscientious of the history.”

Labins said he will use “top quality” materials for the complex, which would comprise three two-story units on the west side of the property to be connected by a bridge to the two two-story units on the east side. A courtyard is planned for the middle with a common open space in the back and more green space proposed for the front yard.

Several Jacaranda and Crape Myrtle trees will line the property that will sit atop a subterranean garage, where Labins said he could add more parking spaces to alleviate neighbors' fears that Glenada Avenue would be inundated with cars.

Labins proposed eliminating the laundry room areas now planned for each of the five garage spaces, which would free up space to add one more car to the lot that could subtract one car from the street.

The idea gained some favor from concerned residents, but Valencia doubted the plan would work.

“It's tandem parking. It won't be easy getting in or out,” he said. “That's a concern because they'll just want to park on the street.”

Officials hope to begin construction by the end of this year, but must first either demolish the property or give it to someone willing to move the home to another location.

Tahmasian has entertained at least two offers to relocate the home — one he considers serious from Glendale residents Mark Zuckerman and Thelma Salaya, who are searching for a suitable lot.

If the pair cannot find an appropriate lot, Tahmasian and Voskanian, principals at the La Crescenta-based Voskanian Construction Inc., will tear the house down, which they have had the right to do since receiving a demolition permit from the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission on March 6.

That permit is set to expire in September, and whether Tahmasian files for an extension or moves ahead with plans to raze the house remains to be seen, he said.

Of the dozen residents who attended the open house Saturday, many seemed resigned to the fact that the apartment will likely be erected on Glenada Avenue, but promised not to stop talking about what they view will be an eyesore in the community.

“The density is just too high,” said Robert Williams, who lives in the condominium complex next door. “It's just too much for this lot.”


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