City officials have unanimously approved a six-story residential and retail building to replace the moribund Circuit City site at Maryland Avenue and Broadway, hoping to attract younger residents to the downtown core.
The Broadway Lofts will have 208 lofts and apartments, ranging from 360-square-foot studios to 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom units. Developers hope to attract a ground-floor restaurant with outdoor seating, an entertainment component such as a bowling alley as well as a market.
Developer Greg Parker of Huntington Beach-based American Multifamily Inc. said that he expects to demolish the former Circuit City building and break ground no later than February.
The City Council, Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority all voted for the project at a joint hearing Tuesday. They agreed to grant exceptions to city rules on parking and signage, and to allow the developers to build 25 more units than city formulas normally would allow. The five members of the City Council also serve as members of the Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority. The Housing Authority has two members in addition to the council.
Council members said the project deserves the concessions because the developer met the city's other environmental, housing and design demands and because the building would bolster the city's planned arts-and-entertainment district. City officials also said adequate parking is available at the nearby Glendale Exchange structure.
The building will include 14 low-income housing units, will be built to LEED Silver standards for sustainable building practices and energy and water efficiency. It will have a rooftop garden with a miniature dog park and lounge areas with views of the mountains and the Los Angeles skyline.
Parker said demographic trends show that in the coming years California will need more homes for single young professionals, and that Glendale offers good access to jobs, transit and shopping.
"Many of these young professionals don't currently live in the city," Parker said. "This is our target market."
Councilmembers expressed enthusiasm for bringing in more youthful residents.
"We will never be a city that has a young and vibrant community unless we have housing for young and vibrant people, and this is the beginning of that," Councilwoman Laura Friedman said.
Councilman John Drayman said between 60,000 to 80,000 young people work in Glendale but live elsewhere, and that city businesses would benefit from having them as round-the-clock residents.
Mayor Ara Najarian offered his support only after securing additional funds for city parks and libraries. Last week, the City Council voted 4-1 – with Najarian strongly opposed – to suspend an increase in developer impact fees meant to relieve the pressure new residents cause on city services. The fees, which are now slated to increase in December 2011, would have cost American Multifamily several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Najarian supported the project Tuesday after fellow council members agreed to direct an additional $500,000 of tax revenue the project is expected to generate toward parks and libraries.
City Manager Jim Starbird said the new building could be complete by the end of 2012.