The City Council made an unusual move on Tuesday when it granted a 14-year development agreement with a developer to lock in approvals for a six-story apartment building at Central and Wilson avenues to cover the decade-plus that may pass before construction can begin.
The building, being developed by Vancouver, Wash.-based Holland Partners Group, will have 152 apartments, along with 23 live-work units on the ground floor, facing Central.
The project, however, can't proceed as long as Big 5 Sports stays in its single-story building on the southeast corner of Central and Wilson.
The retailer's lease ends in November 2014, but it holds two five-year extension options, meaning it could be 2024 before Holland Partners can begin construction, hence the need to lock in approvals for the additional length of time.
If Big 5 does agree to relocate, Holland Partners would have four years to submit plans and begin the building process.
At the June 25th Council meeting, the project's final design was approved. At that time, Mayor Dave Weaver said he'd rather grant the agreement than miss a chance to put a positive development on that block.
"You're telling me [that] for decades to come we have this little one-story Big 5 store there with all this modern housing around it. What's accomplished with leaving this little store there? I don't get it," he said.
A Big 5 representative did not return a request for comment on Thursday.
The planned mixed-use project will be Holland Partners' third six-story development on Wilson, with buildings at Wilson and Brand Boulevard and at Wilson and Orange Street under construction.
When the Central and Wilson project is completed, developments by Holland Partners will stretch from Brand to Central along the south side of Wilson, with 554 apartments in three buildings.
The Orange and Wilson development is residential-only, while the Brand and Wilson development will have 9,800 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.
Councilman Ara Najarian, who was the lone council member voting against the agreement, said Tuesday that the agreement's length was far too long, with only Walt Disney Co. holding a longer development agreement with the city.
"I know the Walt Disney Co., I've seen the Walt Disney Co., and this development is not a Walt Disney Co. development," he said.
Also at the June 25th meeting, developer Tom Warren told the council that by locking in the development agreement, Holland Partners can get its backer, UBS AG, to purchase the property even knowing the project might not be built for years.
"This project will really complete the block in this location," Warren said. "We consider this to be the best residential location in Glendale because of [its] proximity to the Galleria, the Americana."