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Council puts official stamp on historic property

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The so-called “building on stilts” at City Hall was added to Glendale’s Register of Historic Resources this week, making it the 100th property to become an official historic landmark at the city level.

At three stories high, the 55,000-square-foot Municipal Services Building seems to float above four triangular posts at the corner of Glendale Boulevard and East Broadway.

Designating the 100th historic property underlines Glendale's devotion to preservation, which can be seen in the city’s growing list of historic resources and increasing number of historically designated neighborhoods.

Although a lower-level commission’s approval of the Municipal Services Building’s listing came with much fanfare, the council vote on Tuesday was a more demure affair.

In fact, there were few council comments other than concerns from Councilman Ara Najarian.

Being on the register triggers rules that restrict owners from drastically changing a building's historic character. If an owner of a historic resource — in this case, the city — wants to renovate their property, they must go to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval.

Najarian questioned whether making the property a landmark would interfere with city business in case something needed to be adjusted.

“This is a working building,” Najarian said. “This isn’t a show pony.”

But Senior Planner Jay Platt said putting a property on the register protects it, but it doesn’t freeze it in time. He added that top city officials had been looped into the designation process and did not oppose putting the building on the list.

In 1966, the building was the only one of its size in the Southland supported by pointed legs, known as pilotis. Newspaper headlines called it “eye-catching” and “unusual.”

The city manager at the time said the building reflected “the evolution of Glendale from a suburban bedroom community to an independent city,” according to newspaper accounts.

“It’s a pretty exciting example of modern buildings,” Platt said.

In addition to listing the Municipal Services Building, the council also put six other properties on the list this week, including a Colonial Revival-style home at 630 W. Kenneth Road built around 1890 and a 1950 Tudor Revival-style property at 611 Cumberland Road.

Platt said several other city properties may also come before the council for consideration in the near future.

“I think these are wonderful buildings,” Councilman Frank Quintero said. “I think we’re really accumulating exciting housing stock that will be preserved.”

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

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