A pedestrian walks along Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale.

A pedestrian walks along Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale. (Times Community News / June 8, 2012)

After losing local redevelopment powers, the City Council this week moved a step closer to allowing commercial property owners to pool their own funds for improvements and enhanced services.

The council on Tuesday voted to move forward with the process of forming a community benefit district in the downtown area, which will include sending ballots to all property owners who would be impacted.

About 32% of the property owners in the proposed district signed petitions supporting the move, including the owners of the Americana at Brand and the Glendale Galleria. The city’s ordinance requires that 30% of property owners sign petitions to advance to the balloting phase.

The district would be bordered by the Ventura (134) Freeway, Colorado Boulevard, most of Maryland Avenue to and the east side of Orange Avenue.

If everything goes as planned, the district will launch in January 2013 and include about 23 square blocks, said Marco Li Mandri, president of New City America Inc., the company hired by a committee that has been looking at forming the new district.

The district will have an annual budget of $908,000. About 61% would go toward sidewalk maintenance and beautification, 22% would be spent on marketing and special events and 15% would be allocated for administrative services and contract oversight, according to Li Mandri.

The district is needed because when the state axed local redevelopment agencies, it cut off money that could be spent on enhanced services and improvements, proponents said.

“With the end of redevelopment, the ability to fund a lot of these improvements is no longer available and this becomes a great strategy for funding a lot of those improvements,” Li Mandri said, adding that the move reflects the increasing need for private-public partnerships.

Paul Chase, senior vice president of the Glendale Galleria’s parent company, General Growth Properties, said pursuing the district is an investment in the city’s future.

He also said company officials want to market the entire district, not just the Galleria or Americana.

“We think the combined efforts of our talents, working with our partners, will be something better than [working] individually,” he said.

Both retail powerhouses want to help improve the entire downtown area, said Rick Lemmo, vice president of community relations for Caruso Affiliated, which owns the Americana at Brand.

“We [made] a commitment to the city of Glendale that we would deem ourselves a success if that success spreads up Brand Boulevard,” he said. “This is one of the major pieces of the puzzle to let that happen.”

A public hearing will be held on June 24 to count the ballots. If a majority of the returned ballots support the district, the city will move forward to start levying assessments. The ballots’ values are weighted based on the revenues generated by each voting member, Li Mandri said.

There is currently an assessment district in place along Brand Boulevard, but it will be put on hold while the new community benefit district is in place for seven years, Li Mandri said.

While only property owners will be voting on forming the new district, they could pass along a portion of the assessment costs to tenants because those would be private transactions, said Gillian Van Muyden, general counsel for the city’s Community Development Department.

Twitter: @LAMarkKellam