BevMo moving in downtown

CITY HALL — Upscale alcohol retailer Beverages and More on Tuesday secured key approvals for a location on Brand Boulevard, despite complaints from some City Council members who said they were blindsided by the proposal.

The City Council, also acting as the Redevelopment Agency, voted 3 to 1 with one abstention to grant a series of entitlements needed for the retailer to move forward with a proposed location at Brand Boulevard and Harvard Street across from the Americana at Brand.

Councilman Dave Weaver abstained from the vote, while Mayor Ara Najarian voted against the proposal. Both argued against the plan, saying they didn't learn about it until recently.

"In a way I feel I was ambushed on this," Najarian said. "This is a significant location. This is a significant use — a use I'm not entirely comfortable with."

The California retailer best known as BevMo has more than 70 stores across the state and is known for offering a wide selection of alcoholic beverages.

The store is slated to move into the bottom level of the two-story building at 200 S. Brand Blvd., which is home to a Lamps Plus. The second floor of the building would remain office space and not be affected, officials said.

Najarian said he was concerned by the proximity to the Central Library and the winter homeless shelter hosted at the Glendale National Guard Armory. And Weaver argued the project would likely add to the area's parking congestion.

But council members Laura Friedman, John Drayman and Frank Quintero countered that the store would draw important foot traffic and sales tax dollars to Glendale.

"That's what we say we want," said Friedman, who also serves as chairwoman of the Redevelopment Agency. "We say we want successful businesses. We want feet on the ground."

In order to move the project forward, the City Council approved a conditional use permit to allow alcohol sales and consumption at the site, as well as two stages of design approval for proposed renovations to the building.

The proposed upgrades are intended to change the building's utilitarian look to fit in more with the historic style of the Americana at Brand, officials said. The proposed design also incorporates a neon wall sign as a nod to the Museum of Neon Art, which is slated to move in next door.

Drayman said the store's average customer — 35- to 64-year-olds with median incomes of about $75,000 — is exactly the demographic city officials are hoping to attract to an arts and entertainment district proposed for the area.

"I think this is an important opportunity for the city," he said. "It brings employment. It brings revenue. It brings a high level of customer service in a traditional retail setting to our downtown."

There is no immediate timeline available for when BevMo will begin the renovations and take over the Lamps Plus site, officials said.

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