Downtown Glendale hotel plan gets thumbs-up

A two-year-old plan to build an 11-story Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Glendale emerged from limbo Tuesday with a new set of city approvals.

The hotel is slated to be constructed on what is now a parking lot at Central and Wilson avenues.

The City Council voted 3-0 to sell the property to Newport Beach-based developer Komar Investments LLC and renew the project's previous entitlements. Councilman Ara Najarian recused himself due to campaign donation regulations and Councilman Rafi Manoukian was absent.

The Glendale Redevelopment Agency spent $1.1 million to acquire the site and in March 2011 signed an agreement to lease it to Komar Investments.

However, with the dissolution of redevelopment agencies last year and a weak economy, the project was put on hold. After studying the project further, the lease no longer made sense, city officials said Tuesday.

"It was a ground lease, we want to make it a direct sale," Deputy Director of Community Development Phil Lanzafame told the council. "It's consistent with the dissolution act to dispose of property quickly, and will lead to development much more quickly."

The new approval will be reviewed by the state Oversight Board and the Department of Finance in May, and construction is expected to begin one year after approval by those agencies.

The business-class hotel will have 173 rooms, as well as a bistro and bar, fitness center with pool and meeting rooms.

There will be one level of subterranean parking with 56 valet-only spaces, and the hotel will lease 74 spaces from a city-owned garage for $26,640 a year.

The developer will also pay a one-time fee of $1.3 million in lieu of building the remaining 56 spaces required by city code.

"It's going to be a very architecturally significant hotel," Mayor Frank Quintero said. "I think we need to move forward.... I'm very happy we're taking another step forward in the process."

The property will be sold to the developer at a fair market value, and Glendale will receive 15.57% of the proceeds, with the remainder going to other taxing entities such as Los Angeles County.

Lanzafame said the city expects to draw in roughly $790,000 a year from a hotel tax, as well as around $45,000 annually in property taxes.

Sue Makhanian, owner of business properties from 115 to 123 Wilson Ave., said she is worried the project will further compound the parking crunch in the area.

"They won't have enough parking, and they'll encroach on my parking lot, and I'm opposing that," she said. "I think if they can't build the parking, they shouldn't build the building."

Quintero said the hotel should be a boon for her business tenants because of the new customers it will generate.

"I would say the tenants there on Wilson … with the (new) housing (to be built) across the street and this hotel, I think they're going to be in very good shape in the next few years," Quintero said.

Plans were approved a few months ago for a six-story, 166-unit apartment building on the southwest corner of Wilson and Orange Street. Another major apartment complex with 238 units and 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail is expected to break ground this year on the southwest corner of Wilson and Brand Boulevard.

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