Council sides with Caruso

The owners of a hotel and vacant building adjacent to the Americana at Brand will have 45 days to negotiate a sell price with developer Rick Caruso, submit their own plans for redevelopment, or face possible eminent domain proceedings.

Push turned into shove Tuesday after Caruso, owner and developer of the Americana, pitched plans to the City Council for expanding his 15.5-acre mega-mall.

Acting as the Redevelopment Agency, the council on Tuesday approved a plan to push the neighboring property owners to negotiate sales of their buildings to Caruso or work up their own plans for the intersection of Colorado and Orange streets — and gave them 45 days to do it.

Caruso said he would like to make the adjacent properties, which include the 55-room Golden Key Hotel and vacant building, part of the Americana at Brand, adding between 60,000 and 140,000 square feet of retail space, landscaping, a fountain area and a pedestrian walkway from Colorado Street into the mixed-use center.

Henry David, who owns the empty 7,500-square-foot building at the edge of the Americana, indicated he would be willing to sell, his only concern that "we are treated fairly."

And while Ray Patel, owner of the Golden Key Hotel, also said he would consider selling, he added that a mid-priced hotel is an important asset for the city and that he would like to keep it open.

"I don't feel like I should be bullied into anything," Patel said.

Mayor Ara Najarian urged the property owners to negotiate, and if that fails he said a fair price for the properties could be determined in court.

Even so, there would be no losers in the deal, he said.

"The winners in this are the residents of Glendale."

Caruso told the council he wants to "double down" on his investment in Glendale, and pledged to negotiate in good faith with the other property owners. He said he would also look to protect the interests of Patel's 15 hotel employees.

Council members credited the Americana for revitalizing downtown, even as other cities struggle.

"We have a downtown that has kind of become the 'it' place for the region," Councilwoman Laura Friedman said.

The City Council heard from a parade of Caruso supporters, including former Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian.

Leanne Reynolds, a Glendale resident and real estate agent, said the city did not have a central gathering place until the Americana was built. Of the Golden Key and adjacent building, she added, "They certainly don't contribute to or fit in with the new retail and dining experiences we have at the Americana."

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