History may trip up Nordstrom plan

After millions of dollars and a public relations battle with the owner of the Golden Key Hotel, Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso now may have to contend with the Glendale Historical Society.

At issue is a brick building at 230 S. Orange St. that is slated for demolition to make way for a new Nordstrom slated for the site it and the Golden Key occupy. Caruso acquired the former recording studio building for $4.1 million in January, but Glendale Historical Society sent a letter to the city arguing it should be saved.

John LoCascio, president of the Glendale Historical Society, said the empty brick building is a “very rare” local example of the Mission Revival style.

“It is the only one of its kind in downtown Glendale, possibly the only one of its kind in the city,” LoCascio said.

He urged that the brick structure be placed on the Glendale and California registers of historic resources.

A representative for Caruso Affiliated rebuffed the historical assessment.

“That building has been looked at several times and is not listed on any historic registry,” said Matt Middlebrook, a vice president for Caruso Affiliated. “It never served any notable use, and we are confident it does not have any historical significance.”

The 7,500-square-foot, one-story brick building was completed in 1928 and first was used as a UPS facility to serve Brand Boulevard department stores, said Henry David, who sold the building to Caruso.

Henry’s family business, Melco Wire Products, acquired it in the 1960s and used it to assemble display racks for cosmetics maker Max Factor, toy manufacturer Mattel Inc. and other firms.

Later, Henry’s family leased the building to other companies, and in 1979 it began nearly three decades of use as a recording studio. The last tenant, recording studio Backroom Entertainment Inc., closed in 2008.

“It’s a gorgeous building,” David said.

In a letter to the city, LoCascio said 230 S. Orange has “character-defining features” based on the style of California’s missions, including a curved parapet and concrete-capped buttresses.

In an interview, LoCascio said a study of the building’s historical value is required under California law if the site is to be redeveloped.

“It is no longer really acceptable to tear buildings down just to tear them down,” he said.

Philip Lanzafame, the city’s chief assistant director for community development, said the city will consider LoCascio’s letter when Caruso submits plans for the site. The developer must complete all studies required under California law.

Caruso has said he hopes to begin construction of the Nordstrom in 2012 and open the new store in 2013.

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