The City Council has declined to grant historic status for two recently renovated Craftsman bungalows because the owner failed to completely preserve the early 1900s-era properties, which were considered valuable landmarks at risk of demolition.
The historic designation would have triggered a state law that reduces property taxes in exchange for stricter rules governing alterations.
Siding with the Historic Preservation Commission, the council voted 3-2, with Councilwoman Laura Friedman and Mayor Frank Quintero dissenting, to deny the historic status.
The majority of the council said they voted to deny the status because the owner of the buildings, Heritage Housing Partners, had made too many changes during renovations, such as raising the roofs and foundations of the Craftsman-style homes.
The move came despite staff input acknowledging that Heritage Housing went above and beyond to save the structures at all.
“Almost any other developer would not have been able to save these buildings and we can be really grateful that this happened. There are many historic metrics to the project,” said Jay Platt, Glendale's historic preservation planner, Tuesday at the City Hall meeting.
Charles Loveman, executive director of the Pasadena developer, said after the meeting that he had hoped the tax deductions would have enticed buyers.
Although they are market-priced, the houses on the 300 block of W. Doran Street make up the entryway to Doran Gardens, an affordable housing complex built by Heritage Housing Partners for first-time homebuyers.
The $34.1-million joint project with Glendale was completed in 2012, but in 2005, city officials required Heritage Housing Partners to preserve the bungalows.
“We're the ones who said you had to save these homes,” said Councilman Ara Najarian. “My problem is, I just, I don't see them as having that historic flavor to them. It's the difference between a restored Corvette and an original, a survivor Corvette.”
Loveman was surprised by the City Council's decision because the council recently adopted more flexible historic preservation rules that would have covered the buildings despite the changes.
Platt said projects like Doran Gardens are what officials had in mind when they changed the rules.
While Loveman may not need the tax deductions to find buyers — both bungalows are in the process of being sold for $601,000 and $540,000 — he worried that the council's decision was shortsighted.
“The bigger issue is to landmark them,” Loveman said. “Without a landmark protection, over time people are going to make changes.”