Monday, November 21, 2005
C.A. Rejects Challenge to Caruso Glendale Town Center Project
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
The Court of Appeal for this district has rejected a challenge by the owner of the Glendale Galleria to the adjacent Glendale Town Center project championed by developer and former Los Angeles Police Commission President Rich Caruso.
Div. Four Thursday, in an unpublished opinion by Justice J. Gary Hastings, affirmed a January ruling by retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien, sitting on assignment, that the project complied with state environmental and redevelopment laws.
Galleria owner General Growth Properties argued that the 151/ 2-acre development would lack adequate parking, among other things.
GGP had previously fought the project before the City Council and in a referendum. City voters approved the project last year.
Supporters argued the $264-million development would give the downtown area a more vibrant, upscale character; add tax revenue to the city coffers; and create jobs and housing. Opponents said the project was too big for the area and bad for small business.
Caruso said in a statement Friday that construction of the project—which has been given the name Americana at Brand and is to include retail, housing and entertainment components—will begin within 30 days.
. “The industry has been very interested in the outcome of our fight against General Growth as its tactics to attempt to thwart competition are being employed around the country by the large retail [real estate investment trusts],” Caruso, who is suing GGP for unfair competition in a separate action and is involved in a similar fight over a project near Santa Anita Park, said.
“General Growth’s succession of losses in this fight should be a wake-up call to other companies considering taking a page from the General Growth playbook on attempting to stop competition,” he said. “We had both the financial wherewithal and the moral determination to fight. Someone has to carry the mantle and stand up to these huge REITs, and we will continue to do so.”
In his opinion for the Court of Appeal, Hastings said the city gave “due consideration” to the parking impact resulting from the closures of two blocks on Orange Street and Harvard Street. The environmental impact report concluded that the traffic that would otherwise use those blocks can be easily absorbed along Broadway, Colorado Street, Central Avenue, and Brand Boulevard, and Hastings concluded that no broader analysis was required.
“We are not told by appellants why the traffic analysis is inadequate, only that they believe a city wide analysis should have been done in accord with the General Plan,” the justice wrote. Cases cited by the plaintiff, he said, dealt with total failure of an EIR to discuss an identified potential environmental impact, which was not the case here, he said.
Hastings went on to say that the city and its redevelopment agency adequately analyzed parking requirements for special events like concerts, outdoor movies, and Christmas tree lightings, which can attract as many as 12,000 people.
A draft EIR prepared by the redevelopment agency in 2003 pointed out that the city requires permits for such events, and issuance of a permit is contingent on adequate parking being available, Hastings noted.
The Court of Appeal also rejected a challenge to the sufficiency of a financial report required by the redevelopment law.
GGP said the report failed to note that Caruso was going to sell part of the property to a housing developer for $6 million, which GGP argued was an “indirect subsidy of the construction costs” and thus should have been reported as a cost to the redevelopment agency at the time the project was approved.
Hastings, however, said there was “no legal authority for the proposition that future anticipated actions by a developer to defray its portion of the development costs must be included within the report.”
Attorneys on appeal were Jeffrey D. Dintzer, Gabriel J. Pasette and Jeffrey P. Carlin of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher for GGP, City Attorney Scott H. Howard and Assistant City Attorney Gillian van Muyden for Glendale, and Michael H. Zischke of Morrison & Foerster and Mark J. Dillon of Gatzke, Dillon & Balance for Caruso.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company