For fire damaged businesses in downtown Glendale, it's more waiting

More than a month after a three-alarm fire damaged a two-story building in downtown Glendale, the owners of the businesses occupying the ground floor remain unsure when they might be able to open again.

The three businesses affected by the blaze at 233 N. Brand Blvd. were Gold ‘N’ Diamonds, Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine and Regali Preciozo.

Hazar Chicorian, owner of Gold ‘N’ Diamonds, said he hopes to reopen his jewelry store at the same location where it had been for 15 years, but added that it could be six months, or longer, before that can happen.

“It’s impossible for us to know at this moment,” he said. “We’d like to be open before Christmas and so forth, the Thanksgiving holidays, which I don’t think we’ll be open (by then).”

A representative for landlord Sarkis Mardiros said it is too early to give a timeline for repairs to the building.

Glendale Fire Department spokeswoman Brandy Villanueva said Wednesday that the cause of the fire, which erupted on May 27 shortly after midnight, is still under investigation.

The fire appeared to have started on the building’s second floor, where several apartments were located. Only one apartment was rented at the time of the blaze and its occupant suffered minor injuries.

Noura Skaf, owner of Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine on Chevy Chase Drive, said her family’s second restaurant on Brand, open for just 10 months before the fire, had started to develop a customer base.

“I’m definitely going to be losing a lot [of business] because we had just opened and it had just started to pick up,” she said. “I was anticipating to double the business next year.”

Skaf said she had heard that because of the building’s age, the repair process might require extra time and effort to update it to meet current building codes.

The owner of Regali Preciozo, Joseph Toorian, could not be reached.

While Mardiros works to reopen his building, the city is pushing forward with its effort to encourage pedestrian activity along the 200 block of Brand with a so-called “parklet,” which will combine landscaping, open space and seating.

Philippe Eskandar, a program specialist in the city’s Community Development Department, said the roughly 800-square-foot park will occupy three and a half former parking spaces for a year.

“What we’re trying to do is basically create an open space that will bolster pedestrian activity and kind of activate that block,” he said. “For businesses there, hopefully it has a positive economic impact.”

Eskandar said that although the parklet’s location was chosen before the fire, the closure of the building has stepped up the project’s urgency.

“When the fire happened, it really presented an additional need,” he said. “Fire in any neighborhood has a negative impact, not just visually but economically, because people tend to stay away from those kinds of areas.”

Still, construction has yet to begin on the parklet, which is being designed by volunteers and built using a $20,000 grant from the Keep America Beautiful Foundation, funded by Lowe’s Hardware.

Eskandar said construction is expected to begin at the end of this month, and hopefully be completed in early August.

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Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.

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