Burbank Will Tie Strings to Project Choice

Times Staff Writer

Burbank planners will announce Monday which of the four proposed projects they favor for a 41-acre downtown site, but officials said that the designated proposal will have to be significantly improved and modified before developers can break ground.

The City Council, which will make the final decision, will consider the staff’s selection during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting. The council could approve the selection then, although most officials said that is not likely.

City Manager Bud Ovrom, in a memo to the City Council, said none of the projects “really constitute a great cornerstone for our future downtown. I think we are going to have to work closely with whoever is selected to help better integrate their project into what we want our downtown to ultimately become.”

Ovrom said he was not being critical of the proposed developments. “It’s just part of the process,” he said. “We’re not just developing 41 acres. We’re creating a new downtown.”


The four developers have offered to build retail, office and entertainment complexes costing at least $200 million on the city-owned site, which is near the Golden State Freeway and the Burbank Civic Center.

Ovrom said the city’s guidelines for the site’s development were intentionally left vague. He said city officials wanted to be realistic about what could succeed on the site.

“We left it open-ended so that the developers would be flexible in coming up with something that would be economically feasible,” he said. “The only thing we stressed that was essential was retail, retail and more retail.”

The projects were evaluated on what the individual developers are offering to pay for the land, projected income, the quality and quantity of commitments from major department stores, and design.

The city of Burbank has been struggling to find a suitable project for the redevelopment site for almost 20 years. The site’s previous developer, the Walt Disney Co., withdrew last year when its proposed $684-million complex became too costly. The Ernest Hahn Co., which had development rights before Disney, was unable to attract enough department stores to anchor its proposed mall.

The four proposals are:

Fashion Mall at Burbank, a 4.6-million-square-foot retail, office and entertainment complex by Triple Five Development Enterprises, which would include a dolphin arena and a triple-level mall.

City Circle Center, a 1.6-million-square-foot retail, entertainment and office project by Cusumano Development and Watt Commercial Properties.

Burbank Gateway, a 1.3-million-square-foot retail and office complex by the Alexander Haagen Co.

The Burbank Promenade, a 1.5-million-square-foot retail, office and entertainment complex to be developed by Price Co. and Kornwasser and Friedman Shopping Center Properties.