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'Americana at Brand' Billionaire Rick Caruso Paid Over $4 Million for Historic Brick Building in the Way of His Glendale Mall

The $4 million prize, circa 1940
The $4 million prize, circa 1940
Glendale Historical Society

Now we know why Ray Patel came away smiling and "no comment"-ing from the sale of his Golden Key Hotel last month.

The buyer was L.A. mogul Rick Caruso, owner of Glendale's gargantuan Americana at Brand mall and potential mayoral candidate for 2013. (Then, at least, the L.A. mayor's game-changing development ties would be out in the open!)

Though the two businessmen never divulged the details of the purchase...

... judging by how much Caruso paid in January for an empty brick building at 230 South Orange Street that crept on the Americana's monster footprint -- $4.1 million -- Patel has no reason to complain about anything, ever again, for the rest of his life [Glendale News-Press].

It's a far cry from his stance at the end of 2010, when Patel all but recruited anti-redevelopement activists and liberal media to protest the sale. It was easily painted as a big political sweetheart team versus a helpless family-run business -- when, in reality, the hotel's "pop" was just waiting for the right price. (Which we do know was well over $6 million.)

Unlike the Golden Key, though, 230 South Orange Street is lovely to behold. The Glendale Historical Society describes it with affection:

This 75,000 square ft gem, wedged between the Americana at Brand and the Golden Key Hotel, was once a recording studio; it's now owned by Caruso Affiliates and is slated for demolition. Mission Revival commercial architecture is rare in Glendale; it features capped buttresses, curved mission parapet and bowstring truss roof.

Update: Matt Middlebrook of Caruso Affiliated just sent the Weekly an e-mail that reads: "The vacant brick building we purchased in Glendale is not historic."

The building was most recently occupied by Backroom Entertainment, who went out of business in 2008. According to a lawsuit that Curuso is currently appealing, the construction vibrations that emanated from Americana at Brand's supersized barn raisin' didn't make for such great acoustics -- so Backroom's asking up to $1 million in damages.

It's all in a day's work for Caruso, who's actually known to be one of the nicer guys in the big development biz. But hell if that stops him from crushing every hokey blip on the scape of his cheesy faux-Roman empire.

And as for the Glendale Redevelopment Agency: The city may have got out easy on the Golden Key sale, but in the Backroom deal (no pun intended), it waved its controversial "eminent domain" wand to force the land into Caruso's hands. So in the end, the agency can't claim neutral ground when it comes to Americana at Brand. And for that reason, they're at the other end of the recording-studio lawsuit alongside Caruso. So this is taxpayer money, not just billionaire money.

We've contacted Backroom's lawyers, and will update with the status of the lawsuit ASAP.

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@simone_electra

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swilson@laweekly.com

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