Hotel plans start to gel

Officials this week moved forward with a planned 11-story Courtyard by Marriott hotel on what is now a parking lot at Central and Wilson avenues.

The City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday, agreed to lease the parking lot to Newport Beach-based Komar Investments LLC, the developer planning to start construction on the 173-room Marriott hotel by summer 2012.

The Glendale Redevelopment Agency spent $1.1 million to acquire the site, but will reap more than $5.7 million in lease payments and an estimated $790,000 a year in tax revenues once the hotel is open, said Philip Lanzafame, the city’s chief assistant director of community development.

The site is roughly two blocks north of the Glendale Galleria and Americana at Brand shopping centers and 10 blocks south of the Embassy Suites. Terms of the deal require Newport Beach-based Komar Investments LLC to submit full plans by December and break ground by June 2012.

Komar executives had proposed a Hyatt Place hotel for the site, which for the last two decades has been a city-owned parking lot. But they said Courtyard by Marriott, a larger chain with higher average per-room rates, is a better fit.

The deal was approved unanimously in what might be the last opportunity for the Glendale Redevelopment Agency to forge plans with private investors for economic development. The state Legislature is moving to eliminate the state’s roughly 400 redevelopment agencies as part of the effort to balance the state budget.

 Members of the City Council praised the perseverance of the developers, who several years ago proposed a hotel on city-owned land now occupied by the Panda Inn and a parking lot off Brand Boulevard. They lost out to another developer who later dropped the ball, and the site is now slated to become a mixed-use building with five Laemmle cinema screens and live-work lofts. “We pulled the plug out from under them at the Panda Inn site and they came back,” Mayor Ara Najarian said.

Negotiations aimed at incorporating the Panda Inn into the proposed Laemmle/loft development are under way. City leaders also got their first look at an even larger development on Central Avenue, a 309-unit apartment complex slated for the block bound by Central and California avenues, Lexington Drive and Orange Street.

Two proposed five-story apartment buildings would occupy the site where Warehouse Discount Center now operates, as well as two parking lots on Orange Street and a vacant industrial building occupied until recently by the women’s clothing merchant, which suspended operations in February.

A pedestrian bridge above an alley would connect the two buildings. Last year, the city approved plans for Legendary Tower, a 72-unit condo building, on an adjacent site. Council members praised the apartment project on a block that some on dais called “nondescript” and “sad.” A full traffic study will be done before the project returns to City Hall for final approval.

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