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Americana taking shape The giant retro neon sign proclaiming "Americana at Brand" has been installed.
A gold plated sculpture now graces the public square, still wrapped in thick, clear plastic. The tracks for the trolley have been laid, and piping for the dancing fountains is in place and being tested. For better or worse, builder Rick Caruso's mega retail and residential development in the heart of Glendale is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in a month. Four years ago, there was a bitter debate over the project, with some merchants fearing the Grove style "lifestyle center" would hurt businesses for stores along Brand Boulevard and in the Glendale Galleria. Some residents worried about overdevelopment and traffic. Those concerns still exist. But with the shaky economy, many in Glendale are counting on the Americana to give the city a needed boost. It's been a tough few years on Brand Boulevard, and it shows in the vacant storefronts, including big box stores like Tower Records and the Good Guys, which closed down and were never replaced. City officials hope that the Americana with high end shopping, dining and hundreds kate spade factory outlet locations of new residential units, both condo and rental can boost sales along the boulevard and bring a touch of urban elegance to a town long known as a little suburban and perhaps a little bland. "I think it will change Glendale's reputation from being a sleepy bedroom community to one of the premiere cities in Southern California," Mayor Ara Najarian said. In a sign of the embrace Glendale is now extending to Americana, the buy spade City Council last month offered to name a street into the complex for Caruso. The mayor said he expects the $400 million Americana to become a regional draw for Glendale, luring people from all over Southern California. And along with the Glendale Galleria already one of the region's biggest shopping malls Americana could give a significant boost to the city's sales tax revenue. Some of the retailers at the Americana are definitely high end and perhaps not the type normally associated with Glendale. They include A/X Armani Exchange, Barneys New York CO OP, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade and Tiffany Co. But with those customers come traffic and parking woes, which the city of 190,000 is still trying to resolve. Najarian said that officials had been working to streamline ingress and egress to the structure, especially from the nearby 5 and 134 freeways. He said that the city will be bringing in traffic control officers and setting up a command center at City Hall for Americana's first week to monitor the flow of cars in and out of the center. The Americana is rising at the center of Glendale's already dense downtown. Unlike other major developments, LA Live in downtown Los Angeles and the proposed development at Universal City, Americana is far from subway or rail lines that could help reduce car trips. Some critics are quick to point out that traffic from the Galleria and other shops can already bring Brand Boulevard to a crawl. But backers argue that the residential portion of Americana might prompt those residents to walk to shops in the area rather than drive. Glendale resident Christine Farajian said that she was worried about traffic around the project. But she said her optimism about the development outweighed those concerns. Farajian and her fiance bought Sliders, a bar across the street from Americana, four months ago, and were building their business on the promise of what was to come. "I feel like it will be good for the local businesses, including us," she said. "And it will be kate and spade good for the city. that is one of the more admired outdoor shopping plazas in the region. Caruso, in an interview Monday, said the Americana could have an even bigger effect on Glendale, because the 15.5 acre project is much larger and includes housing. "As great as the Grove is," he said, "this is a pretty remarkable project." Both Americana and the Grove are meant to conjure up the idea of a city center with a mix of architectural styles, building heights and materials used, as well as vast open spaces at the projects' center.
Caruso often tries to set his buildings in place and time, and Americana is steeped in kate spade usa website that tradition. The Americana starts earlier in time: a massive elevator shaft, with exposed steel beams, is supposed to hearken back to the industrial era, said Executive Vice President Dave Williams of Caruso Affiliated. A trolley that loops around the project and onto Brand is from "a little bit earlier era" than the Grove's trolley, which travels back and forth along a linear track.
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