The 535-unit live-work Glendale development

A 535-unit live-work project has been proposed at Lexington and Central avenues, where a Citibank building is currently. (Courtesy Bijan & Associates / October 10, 2013)

Glendale may be getting its first major live/work complex, as the city granted preliminary approval to a four-building development on Central Avenue that would contain more than 530 units this week.

The City Council granted initial conceptual approval to the project, called Citi Live/Work Community, on Tuesday in a 3-1-1 vote. Councilman Ara Najarian voted against the project and Councilman Zareh Sinanyan recused himself because his office is located near the proposed development.

With roughly 535 planned live/work units, the project would be by far the largest residential development to come to Glendale during the recent development boom started by the city’s adoption of its Downtown Specific Plan in 2006.

The units and roughly 4,200 of commercial space would be spread out over four buildings on a 138,600-square-foot site bounded by Milford Street, Orange Avenue, Lexington Drive and Central.

An existing six-story office building would be converted into live/work units, and three other buildings would be built at six, seven and eight stories.

The development would include a Citibank branch with a drive-through on the ground floor of one of the buildings to replace one currently on the site.

The live/work development would be distinguished from other apartment rentals in that it will be fully furnished, with phone and Internet service included, so that small-business owners can use the units as both their homes and offices, project consultant Rodney Khan said.

The project is being developed by Redwood City-based Amidi Group, which owns the two Hollywood Production Center buildings in Glendale, where office space can be rented.

It also constructed and owns the TenTen Wilshire live/work development in Los Angeles and Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale.

Rahim Amidi, co-founder of the Amidi Group, said he expects the proposed development would attract digital entertainment businesses, much like the company’s live/work property in Silicon Valley does.

“This live/work community we are proposing in the city of Glendale is going to incorporate that kind of an economy, those types of entrepreneurs in our campus,” he said.

Mayor Dave Weaver said he supported the project, but thought a better plan for the open space — which calls for four paseos running through the development and a central plaza — would be to consolidate that space in one larger area.

Najarian said that he opposed the project because he didn’t think the design criticisms levied by the council would make their way into the final approved project.

“I do believe there’s a place in our city for a project like this … but as everyone knows, it's very much a fait accompli for the next stage once the stage one is approved,” he said.

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