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Dozens of residents write Glendale’s Design Review Board in opposition to proposed hotel

The Aloft hotel chain is looking to build an 82-foot-tall structure with 85 rooms at 1100 N. Brand Blvd. in Glendale — a space the now-closed Recess Eatery currently occupies.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

Plans to demolish the shuttered Recess eatery just outside downtown Glendale to make way for a six-story boutique hotel are raising concerns among nearby residents who think the project is too large for the neighborhood.

The Aloft hotel chain is looking to build an 82-foot-tall structure with 85 rooms at 1100 N. Brand Blvd., which is a commercial area but immediately adjacent to residential homes.

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Last year, a proposal for an 18-unit condominium development by property owner North Brand, LLC. was shot down by a city planning hearing officer.

The officer ruled the project failed to meet the needs for the requested variance.

But local zoning regulations in the area allow for other uses on that parcel, including a much larger office building or, in this case, a hotel.

The former Recess Eatery sits vacant in Glendale on Thursday, May 5, 2016.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

No variance is required, only approval by the city’s Design Review Board, which will consider the project on Thursday.

Some residents living near the proposed project site say the development would have a negative impact on their quality of life because of parking issues and noise.

Nearly 40 emails have been sent to the city, stating the boutique hotel would be too large for the area.

Resident Sean Bersell wrote that the city’s Downtown Specific Plan, whose borders end at Brand and Glenoaks boulevards, was meant to keep developments like the Aloft proposal out of his neighborhood.

“The residents of Glendale have been repeatedly assured that the Downtown Specific Plan would locate these types of developments in the downtown area and would keep them out of our residential neighborhood,” he wrote. “The large hotel that would be erected by this project is out-of-scale and not suitable for the neighborhood and would violate the commitment the city made to us.”

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An analysis by city employees found a hotel would not bring about those impacts, according to a staff report.

Thresholds were established by the California Environmental Quality Act. The only problem the project would pose is elevated noise levels during construction, which staffers have made recommendations about how to mitigate.

The Design Review Board can vote to issue a mitigated negative declaration, which would require only minor changes to the plans.

Construction of the project would also entail creating 85 parking spaces including a subterranean garage, according to the staff report.

Noise produced from the rooftop deck is also far enough from nearby homes that it would be dissipated before getting that far, the report states.

But most residents who wrote to the city are demanding an independent environmental impact report.

Bersell, for example, said impacts like noise and added parked cars on residential streets has not been thoroughly reviewed.

But Vilia Zemaititis, a planner with the city, said the impacts were less than significant and didn’t necessitate further review.

“All the impacts related to noise, traffic, air quality, greenhouse gas and historical and cultural resources were less than significant,” she said in a phone interview.

An existing storage structure on the site built in 1926 that saw various automobile uses through 2011 also will be demolished as part of the project, according to the staff report. It did not meet criteria to be listed on any historic registers.

Plans for the hotel also call for a restaurant that would be owned and operated by Aloft.

The recommendations outlined in the staff report prepared for the Design Review Board indicate that the project in its current iteration is too large in its mass, but city staff have outlined recommendations on how to reduce its scale.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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