Glendale Historial Society wants building saved

This story has been corrected, see below for details.

The Glendale Historical Society is hoping that a mixed-use development that recently won preliminary city approval for a plan to build apartments and commercial space in south Glendale won't necessitate destruction of what it says is a historically significant building.

Society members have requested that an environmental review of the project include a thorough analysis of the historical and architectural significance of a 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival-style building on the site at 3901 San Fernando Road.

They have also proposed project alternatives that don't include demolishing it.

The new five-story apartment project, called The Link, received preliminary design approval from the City Council earlier this month.

The preliminary design includes 142 apartments on upper floors and 16,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

In the Glendale Historical Society's spring newsletter, the organization lists the building as an architecturally unique example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

According to the society, the building once housed the Tropico Town Hall and Library, and during the 1980s was featured as the only remaining building from Tropico's main business district.

Tropico was the name of a town that is now the southern portion of Glendale between the late 1800s and 1918, according to the Glendale Historical Society's website. It was annexed to Glendale in 1918 but maintained its identity well beyond that.

Representatives of the Glendale Historical Society could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The historical society's newsletter states that the building could be eligible for listing on the Glendale Register of Historic Resources — a designation that would require the developer to mitigate the impact of the project on the building.

However, that designation can only come at the request of the property owner, who is also the project's developer, according to Hassan Haghani, the city's community development director.

Haghani said the society's request for a historic analysis is a standard part of the environmental review process.

The preliminary design for The Link includes plans to demolish the building.

Property owner and developer George Garikian said he wanted to wait until the environmental review process is complete before saying whether he would request the building be listed on the Glendale Register of Historic Resources.

"If it's of local significance … I would have to sit down and see what ways we can deal with it," he said.

Parts of the draft environmental document will likely be circulated for input from the community by the end of this week, Garikian said.

He said he retained architectural firm Kaplan Chen Kaplan to conduct a historic resource evaluation of the site as part of the environmental review process. Once he has that report, he said he would be willing to talk with preservationists.

"I was waiting to have this report in hand," Garikian said. "There's no point in sitting and talking without something in writing."

[For the record, May 30, 2013: An earlier version of this story failed to state that an amendment was passed last fall that allows the City Council, on rare occasions, to nominate and approve a building’s historic designation — both actions requiring approval by four out of the five council members — without the property owner’s consent. ]


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