Burbank to Review Bids to Develop 7-Acre Site

Times Staff Writer

Burbank officials said they will reconsider a recommendation that the contract for development of a troubled seven-acre site be awarded to a Beverly Hills contractor and reevaluate two other proposals for the city-owned property.

The Burbank City Council agreed to review the proposals for the vacant property after last-minute lobbying at Tuesday's meeting by the two developers who appeared to have lost out in bids for the contract.

Redevelopment officials said they would reevaluate offers by the Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas and the Culver City-based Goldrich Kest & Associates. Representatives of the firms urged the council not to approve the recommendation of Redevelopment Director Larry Kosmont that the contract be awarded to the Casden Co.

Casden wants to build a 500-unit apartment development at the site, on Angeleno Avenue east of the Burbank Holiday Inn.

The competing developers said city officials had inaccurately judged the ability of their companies to develop the property. They said they are willing to pay more than they originally offered for the land and to revise their proposals to comply with the council's wishes that fewer than 500 apartments be built on the site.

The council, which had been scheduled to act on the staff recommendation Tuesday, voted to delay the decision until next week.

City Manager Robert (Bud) Ovrom said the last-minute lobbying was not unusual. "It's all part of the process," he said.

Kosmont said he had based his recommendation on Casden's experience, financial strength and plan to finance the project with multifamily housing bonds. He also noted that Casden offered to pay the city $6.75 million for the property, more than the other developers had offered.

But Gilbert Eisner, an executive with Lincoln Property, complained that Kosmont had not asked his company for financial qualification information. And Jona Goldrich, chairman of Goldrich Kest & Associates, said his company is willing to increase its offer for the property from $6 million to $7 million.

"Following the council meeting, all of the developers gave us a price range between $6.7 million and $7 million that we can work with in determining who to recommend," Kosmont said.

Ovrom and Kosmont said the council will have to pick a developer next week. A further delay may jeopardize financing of the project through multifamily housing bonds, which could be eliminated by pending federal tax legislation, they said.

The redevelopment site is bounded on the east by 3rd Street, on the south by Verdugo Avenue, on the west by San Fernando Boulevard and the Golden Mall, and on the north by Angeleno Avenue.

The site, part of the City Centre project, has been a source of problems since the city decided to develop it five years ago. One acre has already been slated for a federally subsidized high-rise for senior citizens. But breakdowns in negotiations and disputes between the city and potential developers have kept the land vacant.

The latest major setback came in May when a group of developers withdrew plans to build apartments and boutiques.

After their withdrawal, 165 other developers and brokers expressed interest in the site, Kosmont said. The field was narrowed to four developers, including a Burbank-based firm, Chandler Pacific, which did not submit a new proposal Tuesday.

City officials had originally wanted to use the site for rental apartments and retail businesses. They eventually concluded, however, that a housing project was a better idea because stores would compete with businesses in the proposed Burbank Towncenter and the Golden Mall.

But Mayor Mary Lou Howard said she was concerned that a 500- to 600-unit apartment complex would increase congestion in downtown Burbank.

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