Plans for an Armenian American Museum are heading back to the drawing board after City Council members voted Tuesday to shift the project’s potential home from next to the Glendale Civic Auditorium to Central Park downtown, the Glendale News-Press reports.
A new negotiating lease agreement was approved with a 4-0 vote so the museum’s committee can develop a new proposal over the next year.
In late 2014, the council gave the go ahead to look into developing the project next to the auditorium, a site known as lot 31, but an outpouring of negative feedback over additional traffic compelled council members to change their minds.
Some officials and supporters of the original site praised it because it would have been across the street from Glendale Community College and could serve as an educational resource.
However, if it’s located downtown, the museum would complement recently completed efforts such as the new Museum of Neon Art and the Glendale Central Library, which is undergoing a significant face-lift, said Councilman Vartan Gharpetian.
“Having that synergy between the museum, the library, [the Museum of Neon Art], the Americana, I think that it’s a must that we need to design this building that way,” Gharpetian said.
Initially, the museum’s committee expressed disappointment about the site change, but project chairman Berdj Karapetian told the council that despite pushback from nearby residents, both parties are working in agreement.
“We hope that this process of coming together will continue, and the collaboration that we will see on this project in the Arts and Entertainment District will make it a better place for all of us,” he said.
Once built, the museum is expected to house permanent and traveling art exhibits.
A conceptual design was released late last year, but it will have to be redone to better accommodate Central Park, said Tigranna Zakaryan, spokeswoman for the committee.
The council members’ direction also came before the committee embarked on a costly environmental impact review, which it will still have to undertake if it wants to build in Central Park.
The museum’s original proposed site is 1.7 acres, while the park is mostly grass and slightly smaller at 1.3 acres. It is considered a passive park, meaning there isn’t much room to play sports.
Councilwoman Paula Devine echoed Gharpetian’s comments, saying part of the new design should allow for continued open space for public use and concert-like events.
“I want [the committee] to maintain the essence of Central Park so that we can still use it as a gathering place,” she said.
The park is also home to the comfort-women statue, a memorial to thousands of South Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II. Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said whatever plan that moves forward should be sure to keep the statue on the property.
Despite being willing to give up most of Central Park to make way for the museum, the council is trying to find more spots to establish open space within downtown.
For example, the city is looking to open a pair of new parks on school campuses, Gharpetian said. Wilson Middle School and Columbus are likely the first schools in mind for those projects, he added.
The committee is expected to return to the council in a year with a completed environmental review and a report on fundraising progress.
Zakaryan has declined to comment on the project’s finances.