Burbank Stands by Criticized Contractor

Times Staff Writer

The Burbank Redevelopment Agency voted Tuesday night to move ahead on a redevelopment contract with a Beverly Hills developer whose work has been questioned by some Los Angeles officials.

The agency voted 4 to 1 to reaffirm its contract with Casden Co. to build a 400-unit apartment building on 7.2 acres of city-owned land.

Redevelopment Director Larry Kosmont said an investigation by his office led him to conclude that Casden is a “competent developer who performs and we should get on with this.”


The agency awarded the contract to Casden on Aug. 27, despite last-minute lobbying by two companies that wanted the job. Casden Co. offered to pay the city $7 million for the city parcel and said it would spend up to $40 million to build the three-story development.

The contract was put on hold last week after Los Angeles city officials raised questions about Casden’s bond sales for a $190-million housing project. Two Los Angeles City Council members alleged that Casden had inflated development costs and chosen a financial institution with which he is affiliated to provide cost checks for the project.

The last major setback in the Burbank redevelopment came in May when one group of developers withdrew plans to build apartments, boutiques and a federally subsidized tower to house seniors.

The Burbank project 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 area is east of the Burbank Holiday Inn.

The site, part of the City Centre project, has been clouded by misfortune ever since the city decided five years ago to develop it. Breakdowns in negotiations and disputes between the city and potential developers have kept the land vacant and overrun with weeds.