Tower gets agency approval

CITY HALL — A six-story condominium complex slated for Central and California avenues could play a major role in revitalizing downtown, City Council members said Tuesday.

The council, in its role as the Redevelopment Agency, voted 3 to 0 Tuesday to approve the first of two stages of design review for “Legendary Tower Glendale,” to be at 300 N. Central Ave. Mayor Frank Quintero was absent, and Councilman Ara Najarian recused himself because he owns nearby property.

“This is how you improve the quality of life in a downtown area, by attracting and bringing residential stakeholders,” said Councilman John Drayman.

The proposed complex would include 71 condominium units and nine ground floor live-work units, spaces that are well-suited for both home and work. The project would also feature public open space, including a covered patio area at California and Central.

The property's owner, Surjit Soni, said he envisioned the complex bringing more life to a part of downtown with less bustle compared to nearby Brand Boulevard.

“Unfortunately Central has become somewhat of the poor cousin,” he said.

The project's about 27,4000-square-foot lot was once home to an abandoned gas station, a vacant one-story commercial building and a 20-unit two-story residential building — all of which were recently demolished.

City officials said the complex fits well with the Downtown Specific Plan, which calls for mid-rise and fairly dense mixed-use structures along North Central Avenue to establish a residential base for the downtown business district.

“Central may not be a pedestrian area at this point, but as more buildings are built, hopefully it will slowly become one,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman.

The building's design concept features glass and metal materials, but council members asked the project's architect to take another look at the design of the second-floor courtyard and pool. They expressed concern it would not receive enough sunlight and could go unused.

“I am concerned we are placing the major amenity of the project at the bottom of a light tunnel,” Drayman said.

They also urged the property's owner to employ sustainable building practices, such as solar panel, and to strive to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification.

“My inclination is not to vote for any building of this size that isn't LEED certified,” Friedman said, although she acknowledged it was not required by the city.

Soni said he and architect Mark Vaghei were considering solar panels and other sustainable building features.

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