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Huge downtown Glendale apartment project headed to council for review

A 535-unit live-work apartment complex that is being proposed for an entire downtown city block could become the largest residential development project Glendale has seen since a development boom took hold in the city.

The City Council is set to review the project on Oct. 8. The developer, Amidi Group, submitted plans with the city last month, but the company has yet to seal the deal with Citibank, which owns the 3.18-acre lot bounded by Central and Lexington avenues and Milford and Orange streets.

Amidi Group plans to obtain preliminary conceptual approval for the project before fully purchasing the property, said its consultant, Rodney Khan.

“If approved, it may be the largest number of units approved in one single project,” said Community Development Director Hassan Haghani.

The complex would include four buildings. An existing six-story building will be renovated and converted into apartments, according to project architect Bijan Armandpour. The other three buildings will constructed and will be six, seven and eight stories.

While Mayor Dave Weaver said he would not comment on the project because he has yet to see development plans, Councilman Ara Najarian, who has promised during recent council meetings to put the brakes on development, said he would oppose the development.

The council has yet to outright deny a downtown development, with some noting that the city cannot bar a developer from building in an area zoned for large-scale, multi-unit complexes.

“I will again reiterate my call for a moratorium” on downtown development, said Najarian, who has voted to approve many of the projects popping up in the city's core, but who has criticized recent proposals.

There are roughly 2,000 units in the pipeline or under construction in downtown Glendale. Most recently, the council gave preliminary approval to a 167-unit project with a CVS pharmacy on its ground floor just four blocks away from the proposed Amidi project. One block away is the Lex on Orange, a 307-unit apartment building currently under construction.

Haghani said some other developers had planned to build bigger projects, but the number of units was shaved down throughout the approval process.

But Khan said the Amidi project is unique in that it is set to have all live-work units, not just a handful sprinkled in, like other projects.

“Animators, engineers or attorneys, a lot of these smaller businesses, there are a couple people in their office. They don't have resources to pay for an apartment and an office. It's about bringing entrepreneurs close together to share ideas and come together,” Khan said.

The Amidi Group, of Redwood City, was also behind the Hollywood Productions Center in Glendale and TenTen Wilshire, a fully-furnished live-work property in Los Angeles. The company's new development in Glendale may also be fully furnished.

The developer has proposed constructing a roughly 4,200 square-foot Citibank branch with a drive-through on the ground floor of one of the buildings to replace one currently on the site.

The developer plans to maximize the lot's density allowed by city code by providing public open space. Khan said the plan is to provide 43,760 square feet of public open space throughout the complex, which may include several paseos.

Unlike the Elevé Lofts & Skydeck, a 208-unit development on Broadway and Maryland Avenue that features micro-apartments as small as 375 square feet, the Amidi project plans to have units of roughly 650 to 1,000 square feet.

If the project gets preliminary approval from the council next week, it must go through an environmental review, which could take several months, Khan said, adding the project is expected to be completed in 2015.

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

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