Glendale council members disagree on economic benefits of development deluge

By 2017, property-tax revenue totaling roughly $700,000 from 20 new downtown developments is anticipated, a sum that at least one council member scoffed at this week as being lower than expected.

Once the 20 projects start generating property tax revenues, Glendale could make an average $35,000 per development, which Councilman Ara Najarian on Tuesday called paltry.

“I am surprised when I look at the list of those projects,” Najarian said. “Those are just drops in the bucket.”

Glendale officials expect budget gaps into the millions over the next five years, and this year is no different. At the same time, the City Council has approved several new developments downtown that would bring roughly 2,000 new residential units to an area better known for lunching suit-and-tie types than cocktail-sipping young professionals.

The projects have angered some in the community who feel they will add traffic to an already congested downtown. Officials, though, have heralded the changes as a positive move for Glendale.

Najarian said he expected the projects — which include the Nordstrom expansion, Galleria remodel and several apartment complexes — to give a badly needed boost to the city’s tax revenue base. Other developments include Elevé Lofts and Skydeck, a 208-unit building that’s now leasing 375-square-foot units for $1,500 a month.

The city expects to start collecting property taxes on five of the projects next fiscal year.

When he was on the campaign trail this spring, Najarian said he wanted to slow down on approving downtown developments, but he has continued to give them the green light.

Other council members weren’t as appalled as Najarian by the property tax projections.

Councilman Frank Quintero painted the property tax revenues —in addition to the development-impact fees paid to the city — as being a significant amount of money.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said if more people live downtown, it’s a given that more spending will occur, pushing sales tax revenues upward. Councilman Zareh Sinanyan concurred, although he’d still like to see more property tax revenues.

“Would I want it to be more? Of course,” Sinanyan said after the meeting, but he said the new developments will have a trickle-down effect on the local economy.

Since 2007, Glendale has raked in about $5.4 million in development-impact fees as of December. The one-time fees have paid for improvements at the Pacific Park Aquatic Facility and the Adult Recreation Center. Some of the money will pay for future public art projects.


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