Court battle set between studio, Americana

As the Glendale Redevelopment Agency and the Americana at Brand prepare this month for a possible showdown over the fate of the Golden Key Hotel, they also will go to court over a claim that a recording studio was run out of business during the construction of the 15.5-acre retail and residential center.

On Jan. 18, attorneys for Backroom Entertainment, the recording studio that was at 230 N. Orange St., will argue that the company "suffered years of continuous business interference and damage" as a result of the vibrations from heavy machinery and other construction issues, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, filed in 2008, seeks more than $1 million in damages from Americana developer Caruso Affiliated and the city of Glendale.

In court filings, the city and Caruso Affiliated deny any wrongdoing, contending that the "allegations are groundless and will ultimately suffer from failure of proof."

Attorneys in the case either declined to comment or did not return phone calls.

The jury trial is scheduled to begin around the same time an important milestone arrives for Americana developer Rick Caruso, Golden Key owner Ray Patel and Henry David, owner of the vacant building that once housed the recording studio.

On Nov. 30, the City Council gave the three stakeholders 45 days to either come up with redevelopment plans, or for Patel and David to agree to sell to Caruso, who wants to expand the Americana by replacing the two adjacent properties with up to 140,000 square feet of retail space and landscaping improvements.

Caruso officials have said they are in negotiations with David, who has declined to comment on the possible sale. Patel, who also is suing the Americana and the city for alleged damage to his hotel, has rejected Caruso's $6-million offer and said he would prefer to stay in business.

The properties are in a redevelopment zone where the city has the power of eminent domain, which it used in 2004 to acquire other properties that are now part of the Americana.

In the Backroom Entertainment lawsuit, the recording studio's owner, Brad Schmidt, alleges that bulldozers kept him from doing business by creating vibrations that made it impossible to make recordings.

He also said trucks and construction work limited his access to the site and caused working conditions to deteriorate. The recording studio began operating in the building in 1992 and was continuing to rent past the expiration of its lease when it closed in August 2008, according to court documents.

Caruso spokeswoman Jennifer Gordon said the company will prevail at trial.

"We took every step we could during the construction phase to protect the property from construction impacts," she said. "It is unfortunate we need a court to prove that fact."

Earlier in the case, the Americana filed a cross-claim against Ontario-based demolition contractor Doja Inc. While Caruso attorneys emphasized that they believed Backroom suffered no damage, they said if it did, it was Doja's fault. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard Rico threw out that claim Dec. 17.

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