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Americana passes by a nose

September 22, 2004

Josh Kleinbaum

Glendale voters gave a shaky thumbs-up on Sept. 14 to the Americana

at Brand, a controversial $264.2-million shopping center that is

expected to be a regional draw.

Glendale residents narrowly approved three measures that will

implement the required zoning for the project, which includes 475,000

square feet of retail shopping space, 338 housing units and a

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1.85-acre park. All three measures passed with about 51% of the vote.

The election capped a contentious three-month campaign between a

wealthy developer, Rick Caruso, and a wealthy mall owner, General

Growth Properties. General Growth, which owns the Glendale Galleria,

funded the opposition to the Americana. The two companies spent more

than $4 million in the campaign, making this the most expensive

municipal election in city history.

"It's a big win, not only for the city, but a big win for business

in the United States," Mayor Bob Yousefian said. "It sends a message

to the big boys: You are not going to control us. And it sends a

message to General Growth: This is our city."

During the campaign, Caruso and Americana supporters focused on

keeping Glendale's shoppers in Glendale. They said Glendale's

residents often leave the city to go to restaurants or movies, and

the Americana will give those residents a local destination.

The vote does not mean the Americana is a done deal. General

Growth is still considering challenging the election results, citing

irregularities on election day such as polling places opening late

and voters at the wrong polling places not being given provisional

ballots.

General Growth and a land owner on the Americana site also sued

the city, challenging the project's approval process. A hearing for

the first phase of that lawsuit is scheduled for January.

"We're going to keep fighting to get the right town center,"

General Growth spokesman Arthur Sohikian said.

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