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City of Glendale attempts to save Alex Theatre, other properties

Glendale’s latest attempt to protect the Alex Theatre and other former redevelopment properties didn’t work — so the City Council this week decided to try a new tactic.

Ever since state lawmakers in 2012 ended redevelopment, a program used by Glendale to infuse property taxes into developing blighted areas — the Americana at Brand, for example, was a redevelopment project — city officials have been struggling to save some former redevelopment properties, such as the historic Alex Theatre.

State law requires former redevelopment properties to be sold, with the resulting payment passed on to taxing entities in the region, which in Glendale’s case, includes the Glendale Unified School District, Glendale Community College and Los Angeles County, unless officials with the defunct agencies can prove there are outstanding legal obligations or future development related to the properties.

Glendale officials tried to convince their counterparts at the state’s Department of Finance, which is handling the property liquidations, that the Alex Theatre, the under-construction Museum of Neon Art, the parking garage at the Americana at Brand and the site of a planned Laemmle Theatre couldn’t be sold because of outstanding leases and other contracts.

But state officials rejected their claims last month.

As a result, the council this week decided to categorize the Alex Theatre in the 200 block of North Brand Boulevard and Museum of Neon Art in the 500 block of North Brand Boulevard under “future development,” sell the Americana at Brand parking garage — likely to Caruso Affiliated, the owner of the outdoor mall.

Also, plans for the Laemmle Theatre project would revert back to the version before the dissolution of redevelopment, which means the now-defunct agency will not give $1.1 million to the developer to build underground parking.

Future development would include any renovations made to the Alex Theatre or Museum of Neon Art, said Phil Lanzafame, Glendale’s director of economic development. In addition to promising future improvements, the city must also hammer out deals to pay some amount of money to the other taxing entities, but those deals could include payments as low as $1.

“This is a complicated, very detail-oriented, esoteric financial exercise we’re going through,” said Councilman Ara Najarian at a council meeting this week.

City Manager Scott Ochoa agreed.

“They’re just bean counters and we’re bean growers and they’re looking for a means of pushing [redevelopment properties] off of our books,” Ochoa said.

The city will have to do an appraisal of the Americana garage before it can set a sales price, Lanzafame said. Currently the long-term ground lease of the garage has rent set at $1 per year.

As for the four-story Laemmle Theatre and lofts project, which includes 42 apartments, a theater and commercial space planned for 111 E. Wilson Ave., city officials have to create a new deal with the developer to help pay for the subterranean parking garage without former redevelopment funds. Officials plan to use $1.1 million of city money that has been earmarked for economic development for the parking project.


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


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