HomeCity NewsGlendale Penalizes Demolition of Bellehurst Home

Glendale Penalizes Demolition of Bellehurst Home

After what municipal officials deemed was “an illegal demolition” of a 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival-style residence within the proposed Bellehurst Historic District, the Glendale City Council unanimously voted to impose a two-year construction moratorium at the location.
Additionally, the city ruled on Tuesday that the homeowner must rebuild the 1239 N. Everett Drive property in its original form.
Prior to the demolition, the homeowner, Akop Adamian, obtained permits to build a 692-square-foot addition at the rear of the house and to demolish the detached garage and build a new one.
Due to the home’s location within a pending historic district and because it was deemed a contributor to the neighborhood’s significance, the city required that certain design and structural aspects of the home not be changed. Once an agreement involving the owner, his architect and city staff was made, Glendale building and safety staff issued permits for construction in the summer of 2023.
In October 2023, a Bellehurst neighborhood resident alerted city staff that an unpermitted demolition had occurred, sharing photos which revealed that the entire front facade and almost all of the side facades of the house were torn down to the floor deck. Additionally, the roof and roof framing had been demolished and only a portion of the chimney and a few framing studs remained.
Jay Platt, the city’s preservation planner, stated at the City Council’s Tuesday meeting that “the demolition that occurred was unpermitted, which means it’s an illegal demolition.
“There was no demolition clearance application filed or approved and there was no demolition permit issued,” he added.

In October 2023, the 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival-style property was demolished without proper permits. – Photo by Kennedy Zak / Glendale News-Press

Once the demolition was discovered, the city promptly issued a stop work order and in the following month, revoked the building permits.
Adamian and his lawyer, Steven Simons, asserted at the meeting that the demolition was unintentional and occurred due to the discovery of termites and dry rot, which led the project’s contractor to tear down more of the house than he was advised to.
“The unfortunate part of all of this is that the framer was overzealous and took out more than what he should have,” Simons said. “… Mr. Adamian wasn’t on site that day. Had he been, [the demolition] would have been stopped.”
Simons went on to say that throughout the permit obtaining process, Adamian always complied with the staff’s wishes and insisted that his whole desire to buy and remodel the home was entirely because he admired its historic design.
Platt disputed Adamian’s and Simons’ version of the episode.
“We heard that the demolition was perhaps accidental or inadvertent, perhaps there was termite damage,” Platt said. “I went to the site and took a series of pictures and to my eye and to my level of construction and with my building and architectural history expertise, I could tell that this was not an accidental demolition. It was a very careful, surgical removal of the building.”
The two-year penalty issued by the Council applies to the day the city discovered the violation, meaning construction will be allowed to resume in October 2025. However, the new construction parameters will not allow for the remodeling Adamian originally sought. Instead, he must see that the house is rebuilt “to match the original in terms of size, proportions, design, details, materials and overall appearance,” according to a staff report on the matter.
Once this reconstruction is complete, Adamian must then reapply for the permits he previously obtained, if he still wishes to do so, the Council said.
On Friday, Simons told the News-Press that he and Adamian are taking some time to decide whether they will file an appeal to this decision or seek civil action on the basis of “unlawful taking of property.”
While everyone agreed that the demolition was improper, councilmembers were not eager to take a firm stance on whether the act was on purpose.
Councilman Ara Najarian said the situation is “not black and white” and that he sees some truth in the owner’s story. Similarly, Councilman Ardy Kassakhian said there were signs pointing to both the possibility of the “colossal mistake,” as he called it, being intentional and unintentional.
Some public commenters at the meeting were not as forgiving.
“There’s more than a little evidence that this was intentional,” said Bruce Merritt, a former prosecutor. “I know that the owner seems like a nice guy, and he has a sympathetic story, but … every defendant has a good story, especially if they have a good lawyer like [Simons].”
Adamian, who purchased the house in 2021, held that the demolition was never his intention, reiterating that he wanted the project to progress smoothly, with everything above board.
“If Mr. Adamian intended to tear this property down where he would have to suffer the three years wait, why on earth would he have not done it before he submitted the plans in 2021?” Simons asked the Council. “His three years would be up next month.”
The ordinance guiding Council’s decision to impose a punishment in these circumstances states that a three-year construction moratorium can be applied; however, staff chose two years instead. Kassakhian said he wanted to find a way to send a message of deterrence without forcing the neighbors of Bellehurst to look at the “eyesore” of a construction site for the full period.
Other public commenters, including a Bellehurst resident, shared their belief that inflicting this three-year ban was necessary, while Simons compared it to “using a sledgehammer to kill an ant.”
John Schwab-Sims, president of the Glendale Historical Society and Bellehurst resident, said he would rather look at the empty lot than allow the demolition to go unpunished.
“If City Council allows this or any excuse given to reduce the penalty assessed or simply just allow them to rebuild what they have, it will only invite more illegal demolition of historic resources and those homeowners could just shrug their shoulders and blame incompetent contractors,” Schwab-Sims said.
Another public commenter, who introduced herself as Christine, said she sympathizes with the owner and that the weight of paying a mortgage on an uninhabitable house is a heavy burden.
From the time Adamian purchased the house to now, Simons estimates Adamian is “over $500,000 behind the eight ball in what he has invested,” Simons told the News-Press.
With the two-year construction moratorium, he further estimated an additional financial burden of $250,000.

First published in the May 4 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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