Circuit City makes way for lofts

DOWNTOWN GLENDALE — The sounds of breaking glass filled the air Friday as demolition of the former Circuit City building started to make way for a new six-story residential building that will cater to younger tenants.

The development — dubbed Broadway Lofts — will replace the long-vacant former Circuit City building at Maryland Avenue and Broadway and feature 208 lofts and apartments, ranging from 360-square-foot studios to 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom units, ground-floor retail tenants and a variety of rooftop amenities.

On Friday, representatives for Huntington Beach-based developer American Multifamily Inc. and city officials gathered for the "building breaking" ceremony, in which crews essentially tore back the front façade. Officials lauded the project for starting at a time when most private developments have stalled indefinitely.

"After going through this recession …I was starting to wonder whether we would ever see development again in the city of Glendale," said Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who serves as chairwoman of the Redevelopment Agency.

The City Council last year approved a variety of zoning allowances for the project, and in turn the developer agreed to include 14 low-income units and high levels of green building standards, such as energy- and water-efficiency measures.

City officials have said they hope the complex will breathe new life into a prime piece of downtown real estate and bring in a residential base for the city's planned arts and entertainment district.

"We knew making this district work meant housing," said Councilman John Drayman.

American Multifamily Inc. representatives say the development will target young professionals age 20 to 30 with an average income of $55,000 — a demographic Glendale officials have said they are eager to attract to the downtown area.

Adopted by the City Council in 2006, the city's Downtown Specific Plan called for establishing a residential base for the downtown business district to make the area a "24-7" destination. But so far, those plans have gone unfulfilled as a string of planned high-rise condominiums fell victim to the protracted recession.

"In my mind, this is the beginning of a renaissance for the downtown," Friedman said.

Full-scale demolition of the former Circuit City will begin Monday, with the new residential project to be completed by January 2013, officials said.

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