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Friday, Jul 12, 2024

Glendale Brushes Off Critics of Arts Complex

In an effort to address both affordable housing needs and a desire for a more vibrant downtown, Glendale has approved a $30 million low-income apartment building – with a catch. The Glendale Arts Colony, a joint project of the city, local YMCA and L.A. non-profit developer Meta Housing Corp., will be limited to artists and other creative types. The 70-unit development at 140 N. Louise St. narrowly won approval on a 3-2 vote last month by the Glendale City Council. And some council members aren’t happy. “We have a huge elderly, low income community and we’re turning our back on them,” said Councilman Ara Najarian, who voted against the proposal. “We’re becoming a very attractive and desirable city so rent is out of reach for them. This ignores the true needs of the city.” In addition to Najarian, Councilman Zareh Sinanyan voted against the proposal. Glendale has fewer than 1,300 units of affordable housing – with 100 percent occupancy – in a city with a population of about 200,000. And the demand is huge, with a waiting list of 2,400 families for Section 8 federal housing vouchers, said Peter Zovak, deputy director of housing for the city. The Arts Colony won’t be the only affordable housing complex with preferential treatment. Construction also has begun on Veterans Village, a 44-unit low-income property with preference to veterans. To qualify for a unit at the more than 220,000-square-foot Arts Colony, applicants should be those “who express themselves through a medium.” But if there are not enough arts applicants, the project will be opened to all low-income residents. The building is a mix of one, two- and three-bedroom units. A single person can earn no more than $18,000 a year while the annual income cap on a family of six is $60,000. The city sees the development as another chance to make its downtown more exciting in the evening. It has been working on an “18-hour city” concept for several years, approving more mixed-use developments near the Americana at Brand and Glendale Galleria. The Arts Colony would be funded by a $6 million city housing loan and roughly $20 million in tax credits the developer is seeking from the state, Zovak said. A state response is expected in the next few months. It will be constructed on land owned by the YMCA of Glendale. The group originally wanted senior housing on the lot, but went along with the city “Part of our mission is to provide affordable housing. As far as I’m concerned, whether it’s artists or not artists, it’s the city’s decision,” said YMCA Chief Executive George Saikali. Meta Housing, which has built similar arts projects in North Hollywood and Burbank, did not return requests for comment. Sylmar Revival With the acquisition of an aging shopping center in Sylmar, a Santa Monica real estate firm has its work cut out. Levy Affiliated Holdings LLC paid $16.8 million, or $117 a square foot, for the 140,000-square-foot Sylmar Square Shopping Center, a retail outlet hovering around 50 percent occupancy built more than 50 years ago. Aryeh Aslan, partner at Levy Affiliated, said his firm has big plans for the old center, including renovation of most buildings and a complete reconstruction of the common areas. “We want to create a town square that is inviting to families and individuals to come and spend their time,” Aslan said. “We are currently considering a variety of designs but plan to create a courtyard with seating, landscaping and lighting for customers to enjoy and patio seating for restaurants.” Levy Affiliated bought the center from C-III Asset Management of Irving, Texas, in January. Aslan declined to disclose how much will be spent on the improvements. The deal represents the largest retail sale in the northeast Valley in at least a year. The two-story retail center is anchored by a Vons supermarket, Chase bank branch, Verizon store and Payless ShoeSource. Aslan said his firm is already in early discussions with retailers to fill the vacancies. The company has about 40 commercial properties in Southern California, including a 53,000-square-foot office building at 100 N. Brand Blvd. in Glendale and the Encino Courtyard, a 100,000-square-foot retail center on 4 acres. Fariba Kavian, senior vice president with the West L.A. office of NAI Capital Inc., who represented the seller, said she thinks retailers will flock to the center once it’s upgraded. “The property will be a home run because it is located in a very dense and highly Hispanic neighborhood,” she said. Staff Reporter Elliot Golan can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or [email protected].

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