Americana expansion hearing postponed for negotiations

Faced with a packed, overflow crowd at Glendale City Hall Tuesday morning, the owners of the Golden Key Hotel and Americana at Brand agreed to postpone a hearing on their competing redevelopment proposals to allow more time for negotiations.

About 40 supporters of Golden Key Hotel owner Ray Patel on Tuesday morning demonstrated against Americana at Brand expansion plans, chanting “Let Ray Stay” before reaching City Hall, where the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, was scheduled to consider Rick Caruso's plans to expand his mall.

The hearing was postponed until Feb. 22, giving Caruso and Patel another week to negotiate a last ditch agreement. Patel has already turned down a $6-million buyout offer from the billionaire developer.

Patel has been fighting a proposal to allow Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso to demolish the Golden Key Hotel and expand the 15.5-acre shopping center, adding 135,000 square feet of retail space on what is now Patel’s hotel and an adjacent building that Caruso acquired in January.

Property rights advocates have come to Patel’s aid in recent weeks, calling City Hall’s endorsement of Caruso’s plan more about using the power of the Glendale Redevelopment Agency for big money favoritism rather than removing actual blight.

“Does the city stand with the city of Glendale, or does it stand with the wealthy or politically connected?” Mark Mlikotin, president of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights, said at the morning rally before the meeting.

The alliance has asked state Controller John Chiang to add Glendale to a list of 18 agencies being audited in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the agencies statewide and consolidate their income under Sacramento.

Timothy Sandefur, principal attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, called the city’s report on competing proposals from Patel and Caruso “sad.” The report, released late last week, recommended that the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, back Caruso’s plans.

“The city’s redevelopment agency doesn’t even pretend they are concerned with eliminating blight,” he said, adding that it was all about development.

The Golden Key Hotel is in a redevelopment area the city established nearly 40 years ago. The city has the power of eminent domain in the area, and seven years ago used that power to help pave the way for the existing Americana.

As Patel’s supports marched to a standing room only public hearing on the matter at City Hall, they carried signs that included “Stop eminent domain abuse” and “Hands off my business” — although city officials have steered clear of publicly threatening Patel with eminent domain proceedings if he continues to dig in his heels.

Patel has submitted a proposal to add 14 rooms and a rooftop pool to the hotel, while also reworking the exterior so that it shares a more similar appearance as the Americana at Brand.

A trial date for the lawsuit Patel filed against the city and Caruso in 2008, alleging that his business was damaged by construction of the mall between 2005 and 2008, has been scheduled for June.


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