Caruso, Patel propose dueling plans

Competing proposals for the fringes of the Americana at Brand emerged this week as developer Rick Caruso seeks to expand his 15.5-acre shopping mecca.

Meeting a Jan. 27 deadline imposed by the Glendale Redevelopment Agency, Caruso proposed adding 135,000 square feet of retail space to the center, remaking a one-block stretch of Orange Avenue into a landscaped pedestrian walkway and widening part of westbound Colorado Street.

Last week, Caruso acquired one of two buildings needed for the expansion, an empty former recording studio at 230 S. Orange Ave.

The owner of the adjacent property, Ray Patel of the Golden Key Hotel, also unveiled a plan on Thursday to expand, including a new four-story structure on the front of his property, a rooftop pool and an additional 14 rooms to his 55-room building.

The pool deck with a view, he said, "should make this a great destination hotel. I'm willing to add more rooms, which will add more revenue for the city."

Patel estimated the revamp would cost between $2.5 million and $3 million.

Caruso, on the other hand, proposes spending $40 million to replace the hotel and the adjacent building with a three-story structure for retailers and other amenities. In a prepared statement, Caruso said his proposal is consistent with longstanding city efforts to revitalize the area, to make it more pedestrian-friendly and encourage economic growth.

The City Council, acting as the Glendale Redevelopment Agency, is tentatively scheduled to weigh the two proposals on Feb. 15.

Matt Middlebrook, vice president of government relations for Caruso, said city officials should be skeptical of Patel's ability to redevelop his land.

"I think the city and community in general should be wary of what he's proposing," Middlebrook said. "He's owned the property for eight years, has done nothing with it and then proposes a big redevelopment when he feels he's been pushed into a corner. Why hasn't he brought this to the table before?"

Patel has claimed that construction of the Americana from 2005 to 2008 undermined his business. He is suing the city and Caruso Affiliated for losses, with a trial scheduled for June.

When push comes to shove, Patel said the city should adopt his plan.

"I own the land," he said. "I should have first rights."

But Arnold Graham, a Glendale-based attorney who specializes in eminent domain and who is not involved in the dispute, said he doubted Patel's plan would carry the day.

"The expansion of the existing hotel is basically portraying what it could be. But that isn't necessarily consistent with the city's redevelopment goals," he said. "Apparently one of [the goals] is to not have a hotel, but to have more retail and other commercial uses."

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World