'Link to our past' not enough to block the Link

Despite heavy opposition from the Glendale Historical Society, a 142-unit building in the San Fernando Road Corridor, known as the Link, was given final approval by the City Council this week.

The nonprofit dedicated to preservation opposed the roughly $25-million project on a roughly 1-acre site at the corner of Central Avenue and San Fernando Road because it would require the demolition of a commercial building built in 1930 that the historical society considers a historic landmark.

“I just don’t feel that it rises to being a significant building,” said Councilman Frank Quintero, who along with three of his colleagues, approved the project. Councilman Laura Friedman dissented, describing the building as giving a sense of place to the neighborhood.

Historical society representatives said they did not oppose development altogether, but asked that the developer, George Garikian owner of Kareco Inc. to rehabilitate and incorporate the 1930 structure into the design.

“This is a link to our past,” said nearby resident Marty Bracciotti. “There’s no reason [the developer] can’t incorporate this in and mix modern and new.”

Doing that, though, would be economically infeasible, according to a city report. Garikian described the building as old, out-of-context and unsafe.

“We are not the sleepy community we used to be and we will never be that again,” he said, adding that his project signifies the progress Glendale has made.

About 20 opponents spoke during more than an hour of public comment and described the building as a historical landmark and pleaded with the Council to block the proposed design.

The Link is just one of many apartment buildings coming to Glendale. As a development boom has taken hold in the city, roughly 3,800 units are either recently completed, under construction, entitled or in the entitlement process.

Both the developer and the historical society hired consultants to determine if the building at 3901 San Fernando Road should be considered a historic landmark, with each side coming up with a different answer and then describing their opponent’s defense as flawed and erroneous.

The historical society’s consultant, Christine Lazzaretto of Historic Resources Group, claimed the building deserves to be preserved because it’s a rare example of Mediterranean Revival architecture applied to a commercial building and the builder, Lloyd H. Wilson, brought many industrial businesses to Glendale.

A 1996 a city report found that the building could be eligible for the city’s historic register, Lazzaretto said, but Mayor Dave Weaver said that report didn’t extensively research the property.

In addition, the developer’s consulting firm, Kaplan Chen Kaplan, said in a report that numerous changes to the building over the years disqualifies it from being listed on the state or city register of historic resources and Wilson was just one of many influential builders in Glendale.

However, Sean Bersell, executive director of the Glendale Historical Society, described Wilson as pivotal in developing the San Fernando Road Corridor

Even if the building was considered historic, that couldn’t prevent its alteration, but it would require sufficient mitigation work, Lazzaretto said.

Determining which property should be listed on the local historic register is based on age, architectural style as well as historic events or people connected to the building.

The project is one block away from Glendale Memorial Hospital and across the street from the recently approved Glendale Triangle Project, which is set to include seven stories and 287 apartments. The Link is set to include 16,200 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, a swimming pool, fitness center, bike store and 244 parking spaces. Units are set to range from 600 to 1,107 square feet.

The council gave the design an initial look in May, with some members complaining about an arch element on the building that has since been moved from Central Avenue to a public alley.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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