Patel, in dark suit, leading the march
GLENDALE: As covered earlier today, Golden Key Hotel owner Ray Patel and developer Rick Caruso asked the Glendale Redevelopment Agency for more time to continue negotiations over a plan involving the expansion of the Americana. If today's hearing was really a non-hearing, at least there was the excitement of an early morning march. About 50 people, some carrying signs and some shouting "Let Ray Stay!" marched from the Golden Key Hotel to Glendale City Hall for the redevelopment hearing, passing by the Americana at Brand complex.
Additionally, numerous lawyers and activists came out to a pre-hearing press conference held at the Golden Key Hotel that preceded the morning march. Christina Walsh, Director of Activism + Coalitions at the Arlington, Virginia-based Institute of Justice, the same group that supported homeowner Suzette Kelo in the ground-breaking eminent domain Supreme Court case in Connecticut, said her group was officially supporting Patel. “We’re totally committed to seeing this through," she said. Reps from the California-based California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights, and the Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation were also present at the press conference to back Patel.
Last week, the Glendale Redevelopment Agency released a report recommending Caruso’s plan for expansion, rather than Patel's plan to redevelop his hotel, saying the Americana expansion makes more economic sense. As the Glendale News Press reported, "city officials determined that Caruso is more qualified to redevelop the site, and that an expanded Americana would be more beneficial for the city in terms of sales tax revenue and neighborhood compatibility."
The Redevelopment Agency stands to profit from the commercial success of Americana. Once the development reaches a certain preferred return, the city shares in the mall's revenue. So far, that threshold hasn’t been met, Philip Lanzafame, the city's Chief Director of Community Development, said in an interview late last year.
Given that city officials have been pushing the two sides together to make a deal that would see Patel sell the hotel, few officials were surprised by the last-minute negotiations today between the two parties. One city official, who asked to remain anonymous, said he believed Patel previously wanted to sell his hotel, and the closed-session meeting today with Caruso was likely just part of the game. “Both are shrewd businessmen,” he said. “Both are savvy."
Whether or not Patel wants to sell isn't clear. In previous interviews, he hasn't indicated a willingness to part with the hotel.
Nevertheless, Patel's attitude today could be summed up by one remark he made before exiting the courthouse. “Like I said from the beginning, I didn’t want to be bullied," he announced. Caruso and Patel are scheduled to appear again before the Redevelopment Agency next Tuesday.