Americana at Brand

The city of Glendale is taking ownership of the green area at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, shown on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / December 12, 2013)

After nearly two years of uncertainty about the future of the open space at the Americana at Brand, the City Council this week unanimously approved taking over the popular park as a city property.

The uncertainty was tied to the dissolution of redevelopment last year. State lawmakers ended the program — designed to improve blighted areas through the use of property taxes — in an effort to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap in Sacramento.

In addition to receiving money, Glendale’s now defunct Redevelopment Agency also owned property, such as the space at the Americana at Brand, known as the Green.

As part of the dissolution, state officials could snap up former redevelopment properties and sell them.

Glendale officials jumped through several hurdles to get the open space. A request to transfer it over to the city for ownership was denied by the state Department of Finance in August. But after meeting with city officials, state officials changed their mind and in October gave their nod of approval for the transfer.

“It is important that it stay in public ownership to assure that this asset is made available to the community to enjoy,” a city report stated, which highlighted the popularity of the park, especially during annual programs such as the Christmas tree lighting.

Although the city will own the property, the Americana at Brand will continue to maintain it and provide programming.

While the future of the Green has been secured, city officials must still wait for the state to approve its plan for the future of several other properties.

As part of that plan, city officials plan to sell some storefronts at the downtown shopping center the Exchange and a parking lot at 225 W. Wilson St. for $3.37 million to become a Courtyard Marriott hotel. Officials also plan to keep the Alex Theatre and the building slated for the Museum of Neon Art on Brand Boulevard.

They plan to give away the building housing the Panda Inn restaurant next year at no cost to make way for a five-screen Laemmle Theater, 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 42 apartment units.

The Department of Finance is expected to rule on the future of those former redevelopment properties early next year.

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

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