TO BE CONTINUED . .
The stage was set for a dramatic conclusion to the long, drawn-out battle between Ray Patel, owner of the 55-room Golden Key Hotel, and billionaire developer Rick Caruso, the man who would be mayor of Los Angeles.
The setting was the Glendale City Council Chamber where the Council sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency with Councilwoman Laura Friedman president was set to vote on approving a staff recommendation to seize Patel’s hotell under eminent domain law and turn it over to Caruso to tear it down and build space for three new medium-sized retail stores on Colorado at the south end of his Americana at Brand.
Patel held a rally at his hotel with 40 or 50 supporters, including anti-eminent domain activists with the Institute of Justice that came from Sacramento and beyond to make him a cause celebre in the fight against the 2005 Supreme Court ruling that allow government agencies to take private property and turn it over to other private interests.
Caruso supplied coffee and pastries on City Hall grounds for his supporters in the business community, a crowd that roughly matched Patel’s body for body.
It was standing room only with more than 150 people jammed into the Council Chamber.. There were print reporters, three TV camera, bloggers with video cameras and laptops.
It was the biggest political drama to come to Glendale since the uproar back in 2004 when Caruso got approval to move ahead on the Americana after narrowly winning a voter referendum.
But then nothing happened.
David and Goliath were talking, not fighting.
Patel and Caruso and their lawyers were in a conference room discussing terms of a settlement of the hotel owner’s lawsuit against the Americana for disrupting his business during construction and for the sale of his property for more than the $6 million the developer has offered to this point.
The combatants finally came into the Council Chamber at 10:45 a.m. after two hours of private talks and the meeting began. It was over almost as quickly as it begin with the Council/CRA Board deciding not to allow the dozens of citizens to speak in public comment.
Caruso appeared to be in a somewhat dark and serious mood. Patel seemed bewildered by all that had happened as the TV cameras closed in and dozens of questions were thrown at him.
Talks are continuing, he said. There was no resolution of the conflict.
The Council/CRA Board meeting was continued until 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to leave time for Caruso and Patel to cut a deal that will save them from having to lower the axe and invoke their eminent domain power to take the hotel and turn it over to Caruso for a project that generates more revenue to the city and possibly upgrades to Colorado Blvd.