Board lauds panned plan

CITY HALL — A proposed mixed-use development that would replace an Albertsons in northwest Glendale won high praise from a city Design Review Board on Thursday for its style and pedestrian-friendly elements.

The proposal — which would demolish the supermarket at 1855 W. Glenoaks Blvd. in favor of 12,848 square feet of commercial space, 105 residential units and 318 underground parking spaces — has found friends and foes in the relatively dense northwest Glendale neighborhood.

Nearby apartment dwellers have protested the plan by San Francisco-based developer GL Property Development LLC over fears that it would add too much traffic to side streets and remove a convenient supermarket.

“We're trying to talk about a neighborhood, this is already a neighborhood,” neighbor Peter Carreiro told the review board.

But the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn. has offered tentative support for the project, saying it will change the existing 2.4-acre site into a pedestrian-friendly, more upscale environment that could be boon to the neighborhood.

“It's great to have some forward-thinking architecture coming to Glendale,” Laura Friedman, chairwoman of Design Review Board No. 2, said on Thursday.

The board lauded the developer and architect for mixed, international styles represented throughout the project, but, recognizing early neighborhood opposition, advised the development team to heed concerns about traffic and overbearing aesthetics.

“I think there should be some sensitivity to that,” board member Randy Carter said.

Board members suggested more “green elements” and less vertical mass be incorporated into the site proposal, especially along Glenoaks Boulevard. GL Property Development will address the feedback in revised drawings, which must come back to the review board.

As proposed, buildings on the site would range from one to five stories, or up to 64 feet, and include lofts, flats and town houses. The proposed site plan, which incorporates an open plaza between various traditionally styled buildings, also makes use of the so-called “blended density” concept with nods to pedestrian-friendly corridors.

An initial environmental study is being completed for the proposal. Findings from that report will determine the level and type of review needed for the proposal, according to city reports.

Even with the direction given by Design Review Board No. 2 on Thursday, the project is predicated on Albertsons choosing to abandon the site. Its lease is set to expire later this year, and company officials have declined to say whether they will exercise a five-year extension.

Richard Magrann-Wells, manager for GL Property Development, has committed to pushing for the project even if the supermarket chain holds on for five more years.

“Albertsons has not been responsive, so we don't know,” he told review board.

Until then, GL Property will continue to move forward with the project's design, bring it back to the Design Review Board and continue submitting it to other planning-related authorities.

“There are many things that need to be addressed,” project architect Roberto Moreno said. “We understand that.”


?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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